Tuesday’s Word: mystery

mystery:  something kept secret or remaining unexplained; something not understood or beyond understanding


Baby Girl the Second likes ‘mystery’ stories these days, which leads me to musing about the disparity between the common usage and the true meaning of the word. Of course, the problems presented to the small town backyard detectives whose adventures she follows are never for a minute intended to remain unexplained and invariably prove to be quite understandable to one who reads the clues carefully. No mystery will remain unsolved for more than five pages or a 24-minute television slot, not with Tyrone and Uniqua or Encyclopedia Brown and Sally on the case. In a few years, she’ll discover that Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple are equally reliable in their somewhat lengthier settings.

I have nothing against a good whodunit, although I do wish the genre would be categorically renamed ‘detective’ literature. The problem I see is that we have reduced the – well, mystery of mystery, to the point of excluding any eventuality that remains beyond human understanding. We really believe that if we are observant and resourceful and analytical enough, we can solve any conundrum. When we do run up against something that we absolutely can’t explain, we tend to shrug our shoulders, say “It’s a mystery to me,” and turn and walk away, dismissing anything we can’t define and diagram neatly as not worthy of our attention.

During this Holy Week, this time of remembrance and meditation, I am conscious of both a desperate hunger for and a deep rest in a Presence far beyond my comprehending. God grant me the grace to open myself to the mystery of Christ:  Christ in us, Christ in me, in you, the hope of glory.



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