It's a Question of Asking the Right Question

Often, I fall into the trap of asking, “Why, God?” Why am I here, at this place, at this time? Why do these things happen to me and to those whom I love? Why can’t those I love make better choices? Why do bad things happen? Why do good things happen? Why am I me and not someone else more or less fortunate?

God is gently guiding me to replace my why’s with how’s. How am I to see the good in the situation? How am I to help, not hinder? How can I let go of my satisfactory insecurities and trust in God’s love? I find how to be a much more active question. Whereas why leaves me sitting in a puddle of self-indulgence, how encourages me to look outward and reach forward.

What I see when I look outward: I see a family mourning the loss of a beloved mother, supporting each other, remembering her. I see a young man, confident in his gifts, doggedly pursuing an opera career. I see the mother of a young man with autism, making a home and living, nurturing her family, always giving. I see elderly women who faithfully call each other every day to check-in. I see a son who, without any second thoughts, offered a kidney to his father. I see a husband taking care of his chronically ill wife, tenderly loving her through the years. I see a friend who writes to a woman she’s never met, offering her friendship. I see a family who takes-in a second teenager because her own family is unable to support her. I see a group of people who, week after week, meet together to sing pure vowels and harmonies to somehow join the music of the spheres.

And, I try to learn my lessons…that’s how…and that’s how…and that’s how. Bravely and courageously, determinedly, faithfully, unselfishly: these are how. Why fades into the distance in the face of these noble how’s.

“The circumstances through which God has us pass are an essential
and not a secondary factor of the mission to which he calls us. For us, these
circumstances have all the weight of a call.”
L. Guissani and Fr. Julian Carrón

3 thoughts on “It's a Question of Asking the Right Question

  1. What wonderful insights, Cynthia. Your examples were very thoughtful. Sometimes it is good to change the question because it gives us a new perspective. I once heard someone speak on obedience, and he described obedience as “dropping the questions.” I guess this is a way of living in the circumstances instead of living in the mind and trying to figure out all of the reasons why.


  2. Sr. Ruth, Your comment reminds me of some lyrics in a James Taylor song: “I want to leave my body and live in my mind.” But, that is the opposite of what we should do. We need to be more present rather than less. Thank you.


  3. Thanks for these exquisite insights, Cynthia . . . and for witnessing a kind of meditation upon the human lives around, a meditation that concentrates on seemingly mundane, daily acts of faithfulness to one another. The quote about our circumstances having the weight of a call rings true as well — as does the question about how to let go of our “satisfactory insecurities” to trust in God’s love.

    I suppose growing up in a small town where anyone with intellectual curiosity was criticized as weird or as thinking they were better than others, I’m not keen on the idea of living without our minds and using them to the full. But the meditations you’ve been working on through your question (and Sister Ruth’s quote about obedience) suggest that mind does have a role, just not one it’s in full control of — not a role that can ward off experiencing the uncertainties of life . . . we can use our minds (as you are doing here) in a way that is letting our existential questions work their way through, then beyond, our understanding.

    Bearing witness to our truly felt questions, bearing witness to one another’s lives as responses to those questions . . . thank you for helping us see this more clearly.


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