Sunday begins the celebration of Hanukkah, a series of holy days that spring from a mystery. How did a small amount of sacred oil sustain the menorah in the temple for eight days (allowing just enough time to make a fresh amount of oil) when it should have only lasted for one day? Like the  bush Moses encountered in the wilderness, burning and burning without being consumed, there is no answer except that, somehow, God was there.

Mysteries are all around us. Some things, cancer disappearing overnight, a check in the mail for exactly the right amount on a critical day, missing an oncoming truck may truly defy explanations - can even be called miracles. But even those things we think we understand are mysterious. Because beneath every answer is another question. After what?, when? and how? there sits a why?.

In this poem by Mary Oliver, we are encouraged not to put too much stock in answers. They keep us from seeing what is truly amazing. Grass turns into flesh and bone. Gravity, though strong enough to tame water and rock, cannot keep our thoughts from the sky. The briefest touch with a stranger creates a bond that lasts forever. These, and many more wonders that we daily encounter, deserve our awe, our bug-eyed call to look. They cause us to laugh in astonishment with those of like mind and together bow our heads.  

Mysteries, Yes
Mary Oliver
Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
  to be understood.
How grass can be nourishing in the
  mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
  in allegiance with gravity
    while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds
  will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
  scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.
Let me keep my distance, always, from those
  who think they have the answers.
Let me keep company always with those who say
  "Look!" and laugh in astonishment,
  and bow their heads.

Evidence, Beacon Press, 2009

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