Paradox is the language that poets and mystics use to express their deepest insights. Reality does not conform to either/or, black-and-white thinking. If we focus on matter and forget spirit, or focus on spirit and forget matter, we lose the bigger truth. Reality holds opposing concepts in creative tension.
In Christian scripture, for example, you read sayings such as “anyone who wishes to be first, must be the last.” “When I am weak, then I am strong.” These are paradoxical expressions.
Paradox is at the center of reality. To get there, we must let go of the ideologies and certainties we most cling to. That can be so frightening it almost seems like dying. Perhaps this is why Jesus told the apostles, “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.”
That may sound grim, but opening ourselves to paradox and the sense of connectedness that comes with it helps us to grow in gratitude and joy. Those who understand paradox also tend to grow more aware of the great humor in life. They laugh. A lot. The photo above illustrates this. With our vision somewhat obscured, we can still see that the one dock, in its early morning reflection, is a pair o’ docks.
What we fear we will lose if we let go of our ideologies and certainties is nothing compared to what we may gain.
Photo: Pair o’ docks at Bear Island Lake, Minnesota.
This post belongs to the gold part of the singing wilderness spiritual map, as it closely relates to humility.