The mystery beyond

by Steve Brock on March 27, 2016

Mystery stepsLately, I’ve been curious about curiosity. I’ve wondered about different types of curiosity and how to (and why one would want to) enhance your curiosity. But I’ll be honest. Curiosity, while critical to learning, innovation and discovery, has always felt like the superficial cousin to the deeper concept of mystery.

A curiosity, like the right response on Jeopardy, may be fun to know. But mystery invites us in on a deeper level.

When I travel, I am relentlessly curious. I want to know more about the people, places and cultures I visit. On most trips, my desire to learn remains at the curiosity level. Where I regularly cross over into the world of the mysterious isn’t when I’m exploring some ancient ruin or a dark forest. It’s when I return from my trip.

The greatest mysteries of travel tend to occur after we get home when we’re trying to figure out what the whole trip meant. It is in the return when I have to confront the bigger questions: How have I changed? What do those changes mean for my life moving forward? What have I become and what am I becoming as a result of this trip?

These questions can lead to others (and even, occasionally some answers) that both make complete sense even as they don’t.

Which leads me to today. I write this on Easter morning. I used to see this day not as one of mystery, but of revelation. Mystery was wrapped up in the darkness of the Cross on Good Friday. Resurrection Sunday, in my mind, has always been the bright day when all the answers become clear.

Now, I’m not so sure. As with travel and coming home to confront all that we have learned and are becoming, I think the mystery is just beginning. We’re given enough to grasp the basic story of death, resurrection, the forgiveness of sins and the hope of everlasting life as a result. But for me, what lies beyond the Resurrection now holds the deeper mystery. Not on a cosmic or theological level so much as on a personal one.

Simply put, what does it mean to live in light of the Resurrection?

Easter reminds me that just like returning from a trip, I have to be curious enough to engage the mystery. I have to wrestle with the tension of not knowing. I have to keep pursuing answers even when the questions themselves aren’t clear and to realize that the few answers I do get may be as uncomfortable as they are ultimately satisfying.

So why do I do this? Why pursue the mystery that lies beyond the trip or beyond the empty tomb? Because in the journey, in the struggle through the mystery itself, is where we find life. It’s become almost bumper-sticker trite to say that the value of the trip is found not in the destination but in the journey. But I think the Resurrection reveals to us an added and often missing dimension.

The deeper value is not in the journey on the trip and nor in the destination, but in the journey after the destination. The stone rolled away from that tomb reveals both the completion of one story and the beginning of an entirely new one. The mystery of both travel and the Resurrection is that the journey we thought we were wrapping up is only just now starting. We have entered a place of closure only to find a doorway to a brand new adventure.

It’s a mystery we’re not meant to solve. Instead, it’s one we’re invited to celebrate, be part of, discover – and live.






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The full story – Part 2

by Steve Brock on September 20, 2013

So there we are in Frankfurt, Germany. Walking along the Main River on this lovely promenade, taking in the plane trees and being thankful to find such beauty where we didn’t expect it.

And then the man rides past me on his bicycle.

Plane Trees and Bike - FrankfurtBetween the spot where you see him in the photo and where he passed me, he does something very odd.


He rides the bike constantly looking behind him. At first, I think he is looking at me, not pleased that I am taking his picture. But he never quite turns fully in my direction as I stand in the middle of the pathway. Instead, if the end of the path is twelve o’clock, he keeps looking at about 7:30. I turn as well to see what he might be peering at, but I can’t see anything other than the surrounding park.

Remember the bicycling adage, “Where you stare is where you steer?” That doesn’t apply here in the sense that he steers completely opposite his initial direction. But this constant turning does cause him to swerve and meander all over the path like a drunk walking in the wind.

He seems to be doing a loose slalom, following an invisible oversized DNA helix along the path, looking forward, looking back, swerving. Finally, when he reaches the end of this section of treed archway, he veers to the right and is gone. “Auf Wiedersehen, Herr Swerve,” I think.

Trips are filled with incomplete moments. We experience people and situations that pique our interest but leave us unfulfilled because we leave them too soon. The norm tends to be coming home with partial stories and a lot of curiosity that never gets resolved.

But sometimes, we are blessed to get to see more. Obtain a fuller picture. Witness the end of the story.

My family and I stroll quite a ways along the promenade before deciding it is time to head away from the river. We want to observe the downtown corridor and search out the old part of town. As we turn toward the stairs leading up the embankment, a voice catches my attention.

I don’t recognize the words, but I do their owner: the bicyclist. Our paths have again crossed. This time, his swerves and rearward glances are more controlled. In fact, as he passes to our side, he doesn’t even turn around. He pedals, seemingly talking to himself.

But he’s not.

As he shoots around a corner, I now see both the recipient of his words and the reason for his previous turning.

Running about a dozen feet behind the bicycle is a little gray and white dog.

Dog and Bike - FrankfurtI barely got my camera up in time to snap the picture to the right. But even this quick shot captures the resolution of my earlier mystery. 

This isn’t a big moment on this trip. I would chalk it up as one of those “Oh, I get it now” experiences. But sometimes what sticks with us aren’t the big moments. What becomes meaningful are little gray and white dogs and meandering bikes. It’s the combination of factors, known and unknown, that fill in a fuller story.

Even this revelation, however, the sighting of the little gray and white dog, isn’t the full story that day. For that, you’ll have to wait.

Sort of like I did when I first saw the man on the bike…

To be continued…

Read Part 1 here if you haven’t already

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