Last week I hung up a new watercolor print in my house (by Israeli artist Lesia Binkin -check out her work over at Etsy, here) and every time I walk by it, I just can’t help but stop for a moment to stare at it. I guess I just love the colors and the feeling and the movement of it. Today it reminds me of the Will McPhail cartoon from the New Yorker that my daughter posted to Facebook yesterday. The cartoon depicts a couple standing in an art gallery, examining an abstract painting. In the caption, the woman makes a face and says to the man, “I said, ‘I wonder what it means,’ not ‘tell me what it means.'”
The accompanying article sports the title, “New Yorker Cartoon Speaks to Every Woman Who’s Been Mansplained To” and I laughed when I read it on account of all the mansplaining I’ve endured in my life, whether by well meaning male “splainers” or not. But I also laughed partly in delight over the article’s subtitle: Let us “wonder” in peace.
Yes! Let’s do that. And Let us do that!
Why is it that we so often feel (both men and women, that is) that when it comes to the most important things- like ideas of faith or beauty or how we understand ourselves or each other- that everything has to be explained? Why do we have to pin down one “correct” answer for our every question? That we have to know it, and that everyone has to agree with us?
Why can’t we wonder in peace?
I realize that when I was younger, I wanted definite answers too.
In my faith, I wanted to know the right way and the wrong way, so that I could stay in the light and avoid the pitfalls of the darkness. I wanted to belong to God and for God to belong to me. But, silly me, now I see that God is in the places that I would have named “darkness” too, back then. God belongs to the people there too and they belong to God.
Now I try not to waste my time classifying or pronouncing. I just enjoy the mystery, the wondering, the hunt for God, wherever it goes.
I love that most of the time when he told people stories, Jesus refused to explain them. He didn’t appoint a mansplainer or disciplesplainer. He left us to encounter the mystery. He wanted us to wonder. He wanted us to tumble his words in our minds, to let God’s spirit breathe through them, to let our brains and hearts do their work weaving threads between his words and our own experiences, to find meaning that pulls our lives towards love and justice and mercy.
So let us wonder in peace.
Want some inspiration? Check out the responses to some wondering questions from the children at my church last Sunday when they wondered about the Parable of the Loving Father (also called the Parable of the Prodigal son.)