It’s a Mystery
As I sit down to write this blog post, I’ve just returned from celebrating Mardi Gras in my relatively new hometown of New Orleans.
I still have about half of my body paint on. I’ll be months getting rid of all the glitter. I had the most joyful day, today. And I want to tell you all about it.
But I can’t. Not because it’s a secret, but because it’s a Mystery.
A Mystery. Something that has to be experienced to be understood. Something the essence of which cannot be conveyed in words. It’s hard to convince a writer that they just can’tdescribe something. But I’ve been trying for hours now, and I’m convinced.
Today, for me, was a Mystery. And so I cannot tell you about it.
I hope that happens to you too. I hope you find yourself swimming in powerful currents of emotion that cannot be articulated. Often. And when you do, I hope you’ll remember, and smile, and put down the pen, close the laptop, slide your camera phone back into your pocket. I hope you’ll let go of the desire to document and define, to build bridges made of interpretation between your heart and another’s.
I hope you’ll accept the terrifying truth that your heart is your own, unknowable, unshare-able territory. And anyone else’s heart is their own, unknowable, unshare-able territory. And the bridge that stretches between the two is simply the knowledge that mystery spins in each of us.
I cannot tell you what broke my heart, today. But I know you know what’s it like for that muscle to crack.
I cannot put into words the way joy danced across my skin, today. But I know you know how it feels on yours.
We are profoundly individual, within our profound universality. We are, all of us, more alike than we are anything else, but we are also, and at the same time, utter enigmas to each other, shaped slowly by every tiny idiosyncratic step after step after step it took to bring us to today.
When I accept that I cannot weave words around my Mystery, when I hold silence in recognition of that, my silence honors my individuality, and yours. Sometimes silence between two people is an unflinching acknowledgement of the deepest truth of our separateness, and therefore the most potent possible intimate connection.
Tomorrow, when these words become available to your eyes, will be the first day of Lent. An observance of a religious tradition that is not mine, storied as a time of restriction and relinquishment.
Maybe, though, there is another story to tell about a period of time set aside – consecrated – to release, and to the rehearsal of new patterns.
I realize I’d like to hold silence more often. I’d like to relinquish (release?) my need to fill the spaces between my Mysteries, and yours, with words designed to deny the truth that some things are wordless.
Silence is one of the powers of the witch, not because it keeps secrets, but because it mirrors reality. Silence in the face of what cannot be spoken is a clarity refined by discipline and wisdom. It is an invocation of trust, a bow from one sovereign being to another. It is relentless support of the sacred made manifest in the Mysterious.
If ritual is a way we lay new patterns in our souls, this Lenten time can be a ritual of release and rehearsal. As my intention for this ritual, I wish for myself (and for you, if you’d like) more Moments of Mystery. I wish for us the grace to let Mystery have its way with us. To let the moment be ephemeral, knowing that its impact – the new shape it will have wrought our souls into – will be indelible.
May we recognize in each other’s wordlessness the reality that we are Mysterious Beings together, who are Mysteries to each other. And that the spaces between us are not empty but rather are the strong stuff of which the web of community is woven.
Happy Mardi Gras!
This post was written by Laurie Dietrich