Human Certainty

Today has been filled with conversations surrounding human certainty, or should I say, the desire to have certainty of things as humans. Or, if you prefer the term, clarity.

Ironically, the first conversation was with my four-year-old daughter. Kids have so much to teach me. They can also teach you about yourself.

We were looking at photos of when “we” lived in Kentucky. She kept insisting that one picture was of her and her older sister and that it was taken in the first house she lived in as a child in Monroe, Louisiana. No matter how much I tried to clarify her thoughts and memory (no sweetie, we lived in Kentucky then; you weren’t born yet; that’s Emily not Sophie, and Sophie not you), she insisted that this photograph captured what she “remembered,” “who” she thought was in the picture, and “where” she thought it was according to her framework of understanding.

I was fascinated by this reality. I’ve taken part myself in creating such a “memory” of past events. Yet today I reflected on this thing we humans do, positively or negatively, of wanting to be certain of things we perhaps don’t know and wanting to have clarity in the details we “know.”

Fast-forward to the next conversation in the church office with a staffer. Ultimate end: we want to know if God exists or not, we want to know why God allows bad things to overtake good folks and good things to pleasantly meet bad people, and we want to know our origins as a race: humans.

I’m not going to begin to unpack all this, but I will ask you this question as I reflect on my own desire to be certain of things as a human being: Can I be ok with answering within myself that I don’t know? Is it possible to begin knowing in the encounter of unknowing, not-knowing, and sitting long enough in that space to begin to wonder and truly think? Can I write a poem to further capture this thought? I’ll try.

Can I hold onto what I know

To behold the things I don’t

Reflecting on another’s nature

Whether person, place or thing

Bringing me to a state know as

Dis-equilibrium and knowing

In not knowing and un-knowing

Ourselves, our places, and our things

Letting new freedom and wisdom ring?

What do you think? What are the things, if you can be so honest to share and sit with not knowing, that you do not know yet want to have certainty and clarity of knowing? For me, I currently want to know why God has been so silent toward me. My hope, in terms of uncertainty, is that I will come to know that the thing I don’t know will lead me into a deeper knowledge and even trust in God in my human-ness of asking the question and waiting for

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