It’s a Mystery
by Rev. Dr. Pamela Saturnia
April 08, 2022

In the movie “Shakespeare in Love,” Philip Henslowe, a playwright, theatre owner, and contemporary of William Shakespeare, owes money to a man named Hugh Fennyman. Fennyman and his two associates corner Henslowe on the street, and here is how the beginning of their conversation goes: “Mr. Fennyman allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.”

“So what do we do?” asks Fennyman. Henslowe replies, “Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well.”

“How?” asks Fennyman.

To which Henslowe replies, “I don’t know. It’s a mystery.”

I remember when I first heard that line. Something happened in my mind and in my heart. The feeling was relief. I don’t have to know all the answers, and that was a big relief because I don’t know even half of the questions. I think that is a brilliant answer to so many of life’s questions and an equally brilliant way to approach life: “I don’t know. It’s a mystery.” Writer Frederick Buechner talks about our lives and knowing who we are in this way: “Thus you do not solve the mystery, you live the mystery. And you do that not by fully knowing yourself, but by fully being yourself.”

To yield to mystery is not giving up. It is not resignation. It is, in fact, the opposite. To yield to mystery is to find joy in the not knowing. It is the relief that we do not have to have all the answers. It is a way for us to live our lives now, not wait until a time we have it all together. It is what Jon Batiste sings about: “When I move my body just like this, I don’t know why but I feel like freedom. I hear a song that takes me back and I let go with so much freedom.”

To acknowledge: “I don’t know. It’s a mystery,” is to be open to the future and what the future may hold. To acknowledge that life is a mystery is a way of letting go of the control we never really had in the first place. To live as though life is full of mystery is to go from having to know the answers or find the answers to living with questions. It may be a little uncomfortable, but it lends itself to curiosity and wonder. In the end, by living the mystery and being ourselves, we experience freedom.

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