Welcoming Questions

Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God. – Romans 15:7 (NRSV)

The poet Rainer Maria Rilke became famous by begging us to love the questions. He is not surprised that people have to be admonished to love questions. If it were easy, we wouldn’t need admonishing.

I get uptight if I don’t know my partner’s plans for the evening. Or whether the budget is going to pass the congregational meeting. I don’t love questions. I hate questions. One way to love questions is to give more permission to uncertainty. You might even become open and affirming about them and welcome the questions. Don’t worry: I won’t overspend my vulnerability budget; I will be frugal.

Also, could I date questions instead of marrying them? Could I welcome questions on my way to loving them? I do know how to be glad at the arrival of conflict. Whenever conflict, large or small, comes along we are about to learn something. We learn nothing when seas are calm, except how to float. When seas are churning, we pay attention.

Things seem so hard right now, politically, environmentally, and more. We search for trustable leaders under every rock. Disturbance drives us deep, below the rocks, into our cores. We are unlearning exceptionalism. We are seeking a hidden underground grail that flows near the center of things.

We can welcome disturbance as something pregnant with good. We can worm our way to truthful acceptance of questions.

Jesus refused to avoid conflict. He turned toward it and welcomed it. May we also. Amen.

Donna SchaperAbout the Author
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her most recent book is I Heart Frances: Letters to the Pope from an Unlikely Admirer.