The not knowing

We modern, educated and well-informed folks really like to be in the know.

There’s nothing we can’t google. There’s nothing we can’t study and learn more about. There’s nothing, we’re often lured into believing, that isn’t ultimately within our ability to know.

Our thirst for understanding is one of the defining features of humanity as we know it.

It dawned on me today that part of why I suddenly find myself constantly checking the internet for updates about COVID-19 is because I so badly want to be in the know. I want to know how this story ends for the city, the country, the world in which I live. I want to know how my son is going to integrate this pandemic into his life story. I want to know what I will lose and how life will change forever. IF life will change forever. I want to be in the know.

I want knowledge that is not available to me, or anyone else. I want to skip the experiencing and just get the spoiler for this part of history. Of course, that is impossible, and the sooner I accept this, the more peace I will probably have in my soul.

We’re still in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians today in the morning readings. Here’s the excerpt I’ve been sitting with:

Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him.

This scripture has been misused at times to be anti-education, anti-learning. (Don’t go to college! Don’t go to seminary, it’ll ruin you!) Well, it’s clear (to me, at least) that Paul’s intention here isn’t to say that knowledge is bad. Maybe we could think of this this way: if we think that a meaningful life depends on on what we know instead of  who we know and who knows us, we are missing a lot of ordinary miraculous that is constantly being offered to us.

That’s what I was reminding of myself this morning: I have all of the knowledge that is available to me at this point in pandemic time. We learn more each day about how the disease is spread and how to avoid spreading it. We learn more and more each day about how life is changing and will continue to change. We get information about what we’re allowed to do and what’s available to us as our leaders dole it out. We wish we knew more, what the endgame is, but that’s all that is available to us. There’s a limit.

So when I am seeking more articles, more links, more anything to scratch that itch, it’s pretty much always going to be a dead end. It’s not going to help my anxiety. It’s not going to help my family, or me, live into this time that we’ve been handed. I am just never going to get that spoiler for the COVID-19 pandemic that I’m clearly craving.

What I can do is love. I can focus on loving my family, our space in this apartment, our neighbors, our church, myself. I can open myself to the Holy One in ways that are unfamiliar to me because this new life is unfamiliar to me. I can love. I can love in this space of unknowing. I can love in this space of feeling suspended.

I can love. I can love. I can love. Love is not a dead end; love opens the road into a limitless present.

Thanks be to God.

 

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