The Heart of the Mystery

29 May

I had an art teacher once say that if you analyzed a painting too much, “you kill it.” You took all value out of the subjective experience of viewing the art. 

I’ll never forget his comment as it seems to echo in many areas of my life. Whether it’s academia, religion, love, art, whatever. If you analyze a subject too long, you can “kill it.” Taking all the mystery out of it.

Now I make my living analyzing things. Well, people to be exact. Even before my training as a psychotherapist, I seemed to have an intuitive understanding of body language, facial expressions and verbal subtext beyond what most people discerned in everyday encounters. But perhaps contrary to popular thought, to me the purpose of analysis is to delve deeper into the mystery of another – into intimacy – into being – vs. trying to dissect something down to the point of fragmentation and objectification.

I reflect on this topic as I have been writing today about the historical quest for Jesus and take the position that in trying to discern who Jesus was  – the supposed historians are actually missing the point of who he is as a living presence. But because religious experience is basically phenomenological, pegging down someone’s actual spiritual experience is a challenge and “we need a new way of looking in order to see what we can’t otherwise see” (Luke Timothy Johnson).

So I am all for seeing, for analyzing, for seeking, for discerning, for getting to know. But I also love the inherent mystery that is the heart of life itself.

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