“Being in the know is the booby prize. Being in the mystery is the grand prize”, says quantum physics scientist Fred Alan Wolf.
Life is a mystery. What happens next will always surprise us and when we think we have it under control it turns out to be not so. Wolf suggests that when we embrace mystery as the normal shape of existence then we open ourselves up to an exciting and interesting life. But if we settle for what we know, and try and fit life into that narrow and limited understanding of the world, we settle for less. By settling for less we condemn ourselves to always be disappointed and looking for answers.
Wolf challenges us to sit in the mystery of life, to resist the temptation to find easy and comfortable answers and to avoid embracing the modern myths of safety, happiness and solutions through consumerism. All around us we are asked to accept the answers of others, often others with knowledge and power, governments, drug companies, advertisers, multi-nationals, institutions and more. Some how the way we see the world as an ordinary person is discarded for that of those who are deemed to ‘being in the know’. Even the church is not immune to this form of consumerism, knowledge and power with some within it claiming to ‘being in the know’, knowing the will of God for all and having the definitive answers to the problems we face each day.
Yet, the last two Sundays – Pentecost and Trinity – asks us to be open to ‘being in the mystery’ of creation, redemption and the spirit. To be open to the surprising God whose ways are not the same as ours and whose answers are unlike those we seek. God asks us to empty ourselves of ‘being in the know’ and be filled with the emptiness of ‘being in mystery’. A life of unknowing which, paradoxically, fills us with the knowledge which saves us – the redemptive knowledge of love and truth experienced in the mystery of being alive in this world.
So I agree with Wolf – “Being in the know is the booby prize. Being in the mystery is the grand prize.” But some times it is uncomfortable…..