Swimming in the Mystery
As I reflect on the last year and the renaissance of spirituality that I’ve experienced, I can’t help but marvel at the ways that I’ve experienced God and how my perspective of the world, myself and my ministry have been transformed. I’ve come to terms with the indefinable mystery of spirituality. I know that I am simply not able to describe the nature of my relationship with Jesus with the same precision (if you would call it that) that I might describe my understanding of who Jesus is (Christology). This is a difference for me and a striking one at that. So what is a theologian to do when trying to describe the indescribable? While words and concepts may not be up to the task, I have discovered the power of memory, metaphor and image to describe the mysteries of spirituality.
The image of swimming in the mystery of Christ’s presence in my life is an image that is rooted in childhood memory but speaks so powerfully to what I’ve experienced in the last year. Before moving to
Summers at the lake were life-giving. There was a small raft just off shore that made for a wonderful swimming platform. The lake itself was clear and pristine. A rock dropped off the raft could be seen for 20-30 feet before it disappeared into the murky depths. The lake itself was very deep with a soft bottom, so no one was really sure how deep it was. Through the years people who drove cars out onto the winter ice when it was too thin, would lose there car forever. In all the years my family was there, I don’t ever remember something being recovered. The water on the top layers, when heated by the summer sun, made for excellent swimming. By the time I was a teenager I could swim across the lake and took great pride in the accomplishment. As I swam across the warm surface waters of the lake I was often surprised with a spout of cool water rising from one of the many springs that fed the lake. As shocking as it was, it was always a joy. Only about half the shoreline was developed, leaving much of the lake a wild mystery occupied by swamp and forest, lily pads and giant bullfrogs, all manner of teeming creatures including water moccasins. To explore these wild edges in the family paddleboat was always an adventure for me. Even though there was a lot of unknown and even some danger around the edges and below the surface of this charming little lake I knew it as a place of comfort and peace.
In the last year, as I have explored and been challenged by a deeper spirituality and a more profound relationship with the risen Christ, it’s as if I’ve returned to the time of summertime swims in