Finding The Right Question
Updated: Oct 17
As UUs when someone asks whether or not we believe in God, we mostly begin to do a wild dance on the top of that pin…. Well, what do you mean by “believe in?” “What do you mean by “God”?
There is. a Japanese tradition called “mu”. When asked a question where a yes or no answer would be incomplete, you simply respond with “Mu”. When a question is too small for the truth of a simple response, you would simply reply “Mu”. What is the question behind the question? Well ,in western society I think that response would get you quicly dispatched to the edge of the conversation! And eyes rolling and muttering behind hands might accompany that! So, I’m not suggesting it as an answer for us to employ. But there are so many questions that don’t lend themselves to a yes or no response. If there is only one possible answer, then maybe it’s the wrong question…
Instead of asking do you believe in god, I might ask you to tell me what sustains you in difficult times or what makes your heart sing or what causes a catch in your throat. I might want to know what brings you deep peace or where do you turn when there is nowhere to turn? What makes you tear up? Where do you find solace?
As UUs we know that there are many answers to our difficult religious questions. And our task is to live into the midst of that not knowing, not having one simple answer, living in ambiguity and even confusion. Refusing to be pinned down to an answer that is not wholly true, we affirm the search for truth – even when it eludes us. But we refuse to give into answers that just don’t fit.
I am reminded of a friend who bought a long-sleeved shirt at the church rummage sale. When she tried it on at home, it just didn’t fit right, and she began to berate herself for not having the perfect body. “What's wrong with my body?” Her husband, who is a similar size to her then tried on the shirt – which also did not fit him right. His reply was “What’s wrong with this shirt”!!
Sometimes we have to search for the right question more than the right answer!