Lindsey Weishar: Holy Uncertainty
My Vocation is Love / Lindsey Weishar
If you’re ever at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center in Champaign for an evening Mass you may detect a light shining through the small Resurrection window behind the altar on the right side of the church. The light’s coming from Room 205; I know this because it was my dorm room a handful of years ago.
Though this room’s view is limited — the brick wall of the chapel is just a few feet away — it looks directly onto the Resurrection window, a physical reminder that for all the uncertainties of life, the reality of Christ’s resurrection is our resplendent source of hope.
I remember one particular winter evening in Room 205. It was about an hour before the Resurrection window was illuminated by the light of 5 p.m. Mass, and I was gazing out my own window, eyes brimming with tears as a soft snow fell. My computer had contracted a virus, and I was waiting for a fellow Newmanite to come and help me. In that moment, I felt utterly despondent. The literal darkness of the waning day gathered around me, until that person entered my room and turned on the light. He fixed my computer and restored my hope, and the desolation I felt was replaced by a glow of gratitude.
I’m learning that in whatever season I find myself, Christ’s resurrection contains the promise that my uncertainties have meaning, that for all I do not understand I can be certain of him and his tremendous care.
This moment of uncertainty in undergrad is small when compared to the uncertainties of adult life.
Whether it’s finding a job, making a decision, or discerning my outlook on particular issues society is facing today, uncertainty is a familiar companion.
Though certainty is often touted by our society as a supreme virtue, I do not think it would be a stretch to say that in every life there’s a large amount of uncertainty. How could there not be? I may know what I believe about an issue, but there’s also so much I don’t know — like particular facets I’ve not explored or others’ experiences of this issue. There’s no guarantee that the relationships I have now are the ones I’ll have five years from now.
Proverbs 3:5 calls us away from ourselves as sources of certainty: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, / on your own intelligence rely not.”
AN INVITATION TO HOLINESS
It seems to me that uncertainty offers an invitation to holiness. If in our not knowing we turn to Christ, we allow him to take our hand and guide us. This surrendering of ourselves is not easy, but I think it allows people, opportunities, and ideas into our lives that would never have come if we were somehow able to proceed through life with complete certainty.
When I’m feeling uncertain (which is basically every day in some respect), I take comfort in an image given by St. Pio of Pietrelcina:
“There’s a woman who is embroidering. Her son, seated on a low stool, sees her work, but in reverse. He sees the knots of the embroidery, the tangled threads. He says, “Mother, what are you doing? I can’t make out what you are doing!” Then the mother lowers the embroidery hoop and shows the good part of the work. Each color is in place, and the various threads form a harmonious design. So, we see the reverse side of the embroidery because we are seated on the low stool.”
We are all on this low stool, this place of uncertainty. In this life, I think we are shown snatches of the beautiful side, but often we’re asked to walk through the wilds of the tangled threads, trusting that our Lord is creating beauty from our lives, a pattern beyond what we can imagine. And almost paradoxically, he’s inviting us to realize that our faith is our only certainty.
GOD SEES THE BIG PICTURE
Back at St. John’s, it’s beautiful to think that you can glimpse the light in Room 205 through the Resurrection window. It reminds me we are part of this supreme hope, a piece of stained glass in the grand picture of the resurrection and what it means. Even in our uncertainty, we can be vessels of hope, to each other and to the world.
Today I find myself looking out a different window. I see not a veil of falling snow, but a smattering of fallen petals swirled by the wind. I’m learning that in whatever season I find myself, Christ’s resurrection contains the promise that my uncertainties have meaning, that for all I do not understand I can be certain of him and his tremendous care. Like the mother who embroiders, he knows the pattern; he sees the big picture. Of this, too, I can be certain.
LINDSEY WEISHAR is a poet, freelance writer, and member of St. Matthew Parish in Champaign. She has a master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.