god, seminary, and holy mystery   laura


She was born in Lebanon the year the war began. She spent the first fourteen years of her life in the heart of war. She has witnessed horrors that I can only begin to imagine. And she is firmly atheist. Through my experience of knowing her, I came to believe in her atheism. I did not see God's presence anywhere in her life, although I had felt the presence of God in my life and considered myself a believer. It appeared that God existed in my life but not in hers. It appeared that God loved me but not her. It appeared that God loved America but not Lebanon. And I could not live with this. And I could not live with this God.

I wrote that four years ago, about the woman and the experience that led me to seminary, to find out about God: about who and what God was, about who and what God loved. Did God love Sawsan? Lebanon? Did God love me, if I loved women? I came to seminary prepared to find answers to these questions. I entered into three years of tumult, and loss, and being lost, and a long, slow process of being emptied of everything I thought I knew, everything I thought I was. It was as if I had leapt into an abyss, The Abyss. Unknown terrain. And as much as it was terrifying, it was blessed, because throughout those three years, I never once felt alone. Lost, maybe, but never alone.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths for his name's sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff-they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

Psalm 23

I graduated from seminary. I was changed. (I am changed.) My terrain became again familiar, though the fact that I was changed, changed my relationship to my terrain and to the world around me. Changed my terrain. Changed my world.

That is Holy Mystery.




This is Holy Mystery.

I have called you by name, you are mine.

Isaiah 43:1

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