As Jesus continued down the road, a man ran up, knelt before him, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to obtain eternal life?” Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good?” – Mark 10:17-18
“fait accompli” – a thing that has already happened, or been decided, before those affected hear about it, leaving them with no option but to accept.
One of the more interesting aspects of being a writer is fielding – and, very occasionally, answering – people’s questions. I say “occasionally” answering because I don’t see myself as an answer guy so much as a more nuanced questioner. I’m okay with that, though, because “more questions” is pretty much how Jesus ran his operation too.
But here’s the thing, and I find myself leaning completely on Jesus for this, I’m finding out that this kind of honest wondering leads to better questions, and the questions become another sort of journey, a kind of treasure hunt, where the treasure turns out to be the path taken. And many of the people who yell “only we know the truth” along the way, the ones wearing tags saying Arrived, and You’re wrong, we’re right, or We have the answers, turn out to be essentially sitting in halls of mirrors; and, while they peddle exclusivity and look pleased with themselves, thoroughly convinced that they’ve arrived and that you are the one missing it, they are in fact looking out at a limited, uninspiring, view of their own construction.
So forgive me if, sometimes, I answer your question with one of my own.
When I answered “yes” to the invitation, I thought it meant drinking coffee just before dawn, finding a viewpoint, and watching the sun rise over the summit.
But when the guide woke me up at 1:00 AM, I realized Mt. Sinai was not about the view, but the journey, and certainly more about the journey than the destination.
There was a new question at every turn, a new adventure at every crossroads. Yes, I drank my dark coffee, but then I had to haggle with a Bedouin for a camel; the camel didn’t come with a manual, so when he took off at speed – without the guide – I simply held on for dear life; the animal eventually slowed down to a walk, and I learned to trust the journey in the dark; I learned to listen to the mountain before I could see it; I learned to recalibrate my eyes to see by starlight; I understood that silence and meditation were their own path up the mountain; I experienced wonder when the moon finally rose to wash the precipitous path in light; when it became too steep for the camel, I climbed in the dark by keeping my eyes on the shoes of the guide in front of me; and so on… There is so much to learn because of the journey.
We attained the summit well before the dawn. Then, when the most spectacular sunrise I have ever experienced crept steadily across the Sinai desert until it reached our vantage point, I realized exactly why God had invited Moses to have their conversation in that particular place.
But – in a broader sense – I still had not arrived in terms of a fait accompli (nothing more needed). God met me there in order to equip me for the next stage of the journey, and – for me – that has been the invitation to go deeper, to become a more effective bearer of such an invitation to others, and to continue asking the questions that get us moving, up Mt. Sinai, sometimes on a camel, sometimes in silence, and sometimes in community – but always moving…
The point is the journey – DEREK