I’ve been thinking about the words of Rainer Maria Rilke: “try to love the questions” (Letters to a Young Poet). This response to one who was trying to find his way forward in his craft and calling as a writer is sincere but also exasperating. It is good advice for anyone in discernment, young or old, because the answers are usually slow in coming. You spend a lot more time with the questions. And as soon as you figure some out, a whole new batch will surface.
It is definitely not easy to love the questions. In fact, you can actually come to hate them. In my experience the questions multiply when want to be sure that I’m getting the best deal, the most perfect outcome, the sure thing. I am far from the “holy indifference” that St. Ignatius recommended in the Spiritual Exercises. I am trying to control the outcome, even by putting the decision on my own timeline. Staying with the questions is a way of being open to God’s timeline. Trying to love the questions is giving myself over to a process guided by a Loving Creator. The questions are not enemies. Discernment is not a test.
Another wise poet has words that can encourage all of us who are trying to love the questions: “For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.” (T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets) May God bless us in our efforts.