Minister’s Column

The Shadows of Unknowing

I stumbled upon the reading below by Rev. Elizabeth Tarbox (1944-1999) from her meditation book ‘Evening Tides’ (1998).  She so beautifully captures the experiences and opportunities inherent in the uncertainties of our lives, and she sets these realities in the holiday season. The reading served as the basis for the sermon I preached this past weekend at UUCR (click here for full sermon).

The Shadows of Unknowing  by  Rev. Elizabeth Tarbox

 “Grey, the color of the lake before sunrise; grey, the underside of the gull that flies overhead while the earth blindly searches for morning.

   Give me grey. Grey the color of not sure, don’t know yet. Grey the color of compromise, maybe, let me think about it; grey for talking things over, listening again, thinking some more. Grey for the shaded areas of the other point of view, for the possibility of change. Grey for the smudged edges of what once was dogma, and now is doubt. Grey.

    In the bright red and green, and blue and gold of the season, and the noise and the festivity, give me grey, for the quiet of my soul, the moment of heaviness before sleep, the peace of meditation.

    The steel grey of the lake mirrors the grey clouds overhead, and the bird meanders through the grace of morning flight, waiting, watching the movement of a grey walker watching him. The earth bows to find the dawn and feels its first slanting beams.

    Can I take this as a promise, I wonder. That after the questions, the doubts and the hours of contemplation, there will be gold through the grey, promise fulfilled and truth revealed. I don’t know, but I believe in small epiphanies, a single beam of light in the darkness, some sought-for star, some one certainty emerging from the grey. Meanwhile, let us embrace doubt and cherish our unknowing and patiently await the dawn.”

In gentleness,
Rev. Sue

December 7, 2023

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