The opposite of knowledge . . . isn't always ignorance. It can be wonder. Or mystery. Possibility. And in my life, I've found it's the things I don't know that have lifted me up and pushed me forwards, much more than the things I do know.--Pico Iyer
December is the perfect time of year to explore mystery. Well, for a Unitarian Universalist, any time of day or year is a good time for that. But the festivals of light celebrated by the world's religions, including Christmas, Hannukah, and Divali, speak especially to us of the mysterious ways that hope and joy enter the world and our lives. And December in the Northeast with its dramatic seasonal turning with long nights and short days speaks to us of the mysterious ways that light and love re-enter the world and our lives.
The uncertainty of whether light will re-emerge and how hope will live again can be a very real source of fear and anxiety. We never know for sure how things will turn out. I find I embrace mystery wholeheartedly when what I don't know is what wonderful new experience I might have or what I might learn or discover reading a new book. The kind of mystery that I fear and try to avoid is the kind that has to do with not knowing whether a broken relationship will be repaired or whether a friend with a difficult diagnosis will recover or whether there will ever be justice for children turned away at the border of our country.
Pico Iyer offers the curious reminder that, "it's the things I don't know that have lifted me up and pushed me forwards, much more than the things I do know." It can be a bit challenging to wrap my mind around this idea during those difficult times. And yet, just when I most fear uncertainty and mystery, I end up needing it most. That's when I need to approach the world with openness and hope. Indeed, the possibility for change and the prospect of new discoveries and new life can lift me and push me forward.