Do you know what the questions are?

Here’s the thing: I think most of us by now are pretty well aware that confirmation class, or Christian formation more generally, is not about providing the answers. We’re well aware that for people to grow in faith and in knowledge, they need to discover for themselves about what the Bible says or how God is working in their lives.

But I wonder how many of us maintain a subtle posture of answers. Do you know what I mean? We’re asking questions, to be sure, but as we do so, are we signaling, “We actually know the answers to these questions; we’re just waiting for you to catch up”?

God knows I find I take that position: the wise teacher instructing the students – but not by telling them. Oh no. I graciously allow them to figure things out on their own. Which remarkably enough often resembles what I have already figured out.

And then today I saw a quote from St. Augustine that slapped me upside the head: Si comprehendis, non est Deus! "If you think you comprehend, then it's not God you're talking about!"

Bam! Right in the kisser!

I’m afraid I do think I comprehend, far too often. Not just about God, but about what’s right and wrong, what people and/or the church ought to be doing, and in general comprehending the situation in front of me, when time and again I’m proven wrong.  

And so this year, I’ve set myself a difficult task: trying to know what the questions are.

I’m not even sure how to go about it, but I think my first step is clear: I need to be aware of the times when I think I comprehend. It’s at that moment, when I say to myself, “Hey, I think I have the answer!” that I hope I will then ask myself, “So what is the question here? What don’t I know?”

And then comes the hard part: the not knowing. Sitting in the question and not scrambling to get that answer nailed down. Can I do that? Can I bear not knowing – or more accurately, not having an answer? Am I going to be able to sit there in that question and let it sink into my bones? What will happen if I do?

Here’s my next question: If I do that, if I sit and soak in the questions, will I be able to allow those around me to sit in the questions as well? Because I’m beginning to wonder if my posture of having the answers forces those around me to come up with answers right away, to keep me from getting uncomfortable. I’m beginning to wonder if I ever liked those questions at all.