The Grace of Not Knowing Everything
Katherine Krause, oblate
Editor's note: Sisters from Mount St. Scholastica write a weekly column titled "View from the Mount" in our hometown newspaper, the Atchison Globe. One of our oblates wrote this column, which appeared in the Aug. 20, 2016, edition of the Globe.
Five years ago I made my promise at the Mount as an oblate – a lay person who tries to live Benedictine values united with the sisters. As I look back at what I anticipated compared to where I am now, there are things that stand out that I either didn’t know when I signed up, or thought I knew, but didn’t really.
This kind of perspective is true whenever we set out in a new direction, especially if it involves our soul. Some of the most important parts of our adventure with God are things that delight, disarm, or disorient us in the best of ways.
Making my promise was a sacred moment. I had stood at an altar once before to make promises of fidelity and faith and love at my wedding. In both wedding and oblation, I had no idea really of what I was getting myself into at the time. Like marrying the man with whom I am very much in love, I could not have known in that moment everything that my “I will” would come to require. You don’t leave your promise at the altar. You leave yourself. Your promise goes with you everywhere. I couldn’t have imagined how even-more-wonderful it was going to be at times, or how tough and challenging it would be at others. And that all of this is love.
I would never have imagined how my promise would demand change in ways and places and depths uncharted. Some changes I would not have chosen, but needed. Some I still need.
Never would my dreams have been big enough for the many-colored, multi-textured joys of relationship — how it would form me, and also repeatedly lead me down the way of surrender, death, and rising. All of this is life. The actual, lived experience of following Jesus is always a mystery, weaving us together, because that’s how love is. If we’re doing things in Gospel fashion, our faith becomes interwoven through all of life, connecting us to God and each other.
It’s almost imperceptible at times, until it isn’t, until it marks us in such an unmistakable way that we and others notice that something is going on here, that love is going on here. The big promises mark those moments of awareness and remind us that we’re in the Mystery.
Becoming an oblate was a dive into the deep end of grace. I’ve come to know that we can dare to follow God into the things he invites us to do, even if they seem a bit unknown or daunting. This not-knowing, this ignorance-in-the-moment is grace loving us along. That’s how God’s grace works. You have it when you don’t even know you need it. God is good like that.
If we knew the enormity of all that God might ask us to do, we probably would convince ourselves that we couldn’t do it. We’d be right about that. The truth is that we can’t do any of it by ourselves, but we do not work alone. In all of our efforts to follow Jesus, the Spirit does the heavy-lifting.
I didn’t realize how this call of following Christ in the way of St. Benedict would permeate my life in all of the ways that it does: my spirituality, my marriage, my parenting, my work, my money, my free time. So, I’m celebrating the fact that I don’t have to know everything, because I know that God is for me, and I know that grace is for me. Benedictines do this together. Together, we’re led and held by Love.