Tonight I attended our CORE worship, our Sunday evening alternative service that meets at the Orr St. Galleries. We began a Lenten-long theme on doubt, and the focal piece in the center of the room was a tree – made of gathered branches. At one point in the service we were encouraged to write our doubts on paper leaves and hang them on the tree.
During our time of prayer, the doubts were read aloud and offered to God. It was a remarkable moment. With permission given by and to the whole community, a most honest offering of doubt was surfaced and shared, with no fear. And hearing them, the roots of every doubt, provided a kind of freedom that was refreshing.
So often religious communities are so preoccupied with what they believe, what they suppose themselves to know, that they don’t carve out time to recognize the obvious, that each soul is carrying unresolved questions of faith. And if we do not provide space for them to be named, known and shared, we will find more things to cover them and pretend that they don’t exist.
In Paul Tillich’s little classic book, Dynamics of Faith, he spoke of doubt not as the opposite of faith, but rather as a part of faith, as the confirmation that which is being taken ultimately. Only such seriousness will bring forth the experience of doubt, because we do not doubt that about which we care little.
This is faithful doubting, the doubt that speaks, clarifies, and draws us ever nearer to the center of the matter.