Life: the Search for Truth

I suppose if we asked a number of different people what the point or purpose of life is, we would get a variety of answers.  I am ok with that because I am not sure there is just one answer.  If there is just one answer, I suspect most of us would assume that one answer must be the right answer.  Of course, we can think of people we would know who claim, “of course, there is one, right answer.”  I am less sure.

This is not to say I don’t think there are answers.  If asked what I think the purpose of life is, I am pretty clear what my answer would be.  And I am sure not every other person would immediately say, “of course, that is exactly the case.” And I am also comfortable with the fact that a longer life or more experience might change my mind.  I want to stay open.

In some ways I am more comfortable with my questions than my answers.  I know at some stages of my life this would disturb or worry me.  Early on in the spiritual journey, I assumed I would find or assumed I would be given THE answer. 

But then, as time evolved, I began to realize whatever answer we get is preceded by the question.  For example, if I am lost and stop to ask a question, the answer should match the question.  If I say which way is it to New York City, I would not expect the answer to be “blue.”  That answer is nonsense for the question asked.

All this is why I have come to value so dearly the question.  Good questions drive the search.  Good questions shape the potential answer.  Good questions are like the one that asks, which way is it to New York City.  Good questions eliminate all sorts of nonsensical answers.

So in the spiritual journey, I am very much helped by forming good questions.  And this is a role that friends can play in my journey.  In many cases these friends become spiritual directors.  Sometimes they know they play that role.  At other times, they don’t know.  They may simply be living their lives such that they become directional for me. 

Their spiritual truths become questions for me.  For example, they may have a very deep peace in their lives.  My question, then, becomes, how can I also know a deep peace in my life?  I can’t have their deep peace.  If I have deep peace, it will be my own.

It is at this juncture I recall the words of Henri Nouwen in a little book on spiritual direction which a couple of his students edited after Henri died.  The line I like goes like this: “When God enters into the center of our lives to unmask our illusion of possessing final solutions and to disarm us with always deeper questions, we will not necessarily have an easier or simpler life, but certainly a life that is honest, courageous, and marked with the ongoing search for truth.”

There is so much in that quotation that speaks to me.  As much as I want to yell, “ouch,” at the thought that God unmasks my illusion, I know that is an experience of spiritual growth.  I have to take a deep breath at the thought of God disarming me with deeper questions.  There are times I want to scream, “Enough!  Enough!”

But I do long for a life that is honest, courageous, and marked by that ongoing search for truth.  And now I know a little deeper into the question…into meaning of life.  I know that truth in this sense is not so much a right answer---even THE right answer. 

Truth has more to do with experience than ideas.  It is the experience---the deep experience---of the Spirit indwelling my spirit.  For me, that’s life: the search for truth.

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