I Don’t Know!

I Don’t Know!

I swim at  the local Tri-Health facility, in the basement of the YWCA. Early birds have to sign in each day, so we all get to know Chan, the woman at the front desk. That’s her, peeking out from behind a sign she made not long ago. It was an unusual moment—she never has signs! But there had been some kind of incident two nights earlier.

Somehow, someone had broken the huge pane of glass in one of the front doors. How did it happen? You know the answer! She made a sign halfway through the day because everyone who came in the door kept asking, “What happened?” Chan, who so cheerfully greets everyone, including the young children who come for daycare, eventually got out her crayons and dressed  up her answer with color.

Of course, I couldn’t leave it at that. As I swam back and forth that morning, enjoying my morning prayer time, the time I take to let all of the ideas surface and move on for a few minutes, making room for God, I pondered the broken glass and the response, “I do not know.”

I thought of the many readers of St. Anthony Messenger who call and write to express their personal pain that perhaps an article or editorial sparked (our current issue on Catholics and Muslims is getting lots of that!).

I thought of my friends, coworkers, family—lots of people!—who go through life wondering why something bad might have happened to them. Most are left with Chan’s answer, I do not know. Catholics might say, It’s a mystery. Later, I wondered: How many of us can take our crayons and celebrate the mysteries that we live with? It’s an act of trust in God.

Photos: John Feister


About the Author

John Feister is editor in chief of St. Anthony Messenger magazine. He has a B.A. in American Studies from University of Dayton, and master's degrees in Humanities and in Theology from Xavier University. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada, and was previously an adviser to the Communications Committee of the U.S. Catholic bishops (2000-2006). His latest book, Thank You, Sisters: Stories of Women Religious and How They Enrich Our Lives is available from the Franciscan Media catalog. He has cauthored four books with Richard Rohr (Franciscan Media), and coauthored, with Charlene Smith, the biography of Thea Bowman (Orbis books).