Reflections on the opportunity to experience ‘not knowing’ as a form of spiritual practice.

My head is bursting
with the joy of the unknown.
My heart is expanding a thousand fold.
Every cell,
taking wings,
flies about the world.
All seek separately
the many faces of my Beloved.
‑ Rumi

It’s an uncomfortable feeling, but it pushes us to seek a deeper understanding of the world around us. — Sara Gottlieb-Cohen

Articles on ‘not knowing’:

Questions to consider:

  • Does God learn? Can God be wrong, make mistakes, and change God’s mind?
  • Can God be known?
  • Did Jesus ever show us that he reconsidered a situation, learned, and grew to know more?
  • How do you handle the tension of ‘not knowing’?
  • What opportunities does doubt, uncertainty, or not-knowing offer?
  • When have you admitted, or responded to a situation, by saying “I don’t know?” What happened?
  • How could ‘not knowing’ become a prayer?
  • What don’t you know?

I don’t know why life isn’t constructed to be seamless and safe, why we make such glaring mistakes, things fall so short of our expectations, and our hearts get broken and out kids do scary things and our parents get old and don’t always remember to put pants on before they go out for a stroll. I don’t know why it’s not more like it is in the movies, why things don’t come out neatly and lessons can’t be learned when you’re in the mood for learning them, why love and grace often come in such motley packaging. — Anne Lamott

I know you’ll ask me, “How can I think on God as God, and who is God?” and I can only answer, “I don’t know.” Your question takes me into the very darkness and cloud of unknowing that I want you to enter. We can know so many things. Through God’s grace, our minds can explore, understand, and reflect on creation and even on God’s own works [as we should!], but we can’t think our way to God. That’s why I’m willing to abandon everything I know, to love the one thing I cannot think. [God] can be loved, but not thought. [John of the Cross and many other mystics say the same thing. We could have saved ourselves so much fighting and division if we had just taught this one truth!] By love, God can be embraced and held, but not by thinking. It is good sometimes to meditate on God’s amazing love as part of illumination and contemplation, but true contemplative work is something entirely different. Even meditating on God’s love must be put down [let go of] and covered with a cloud of forgetting. Show your determination next. Let that joyful stirring of love make you resolute, and in its enthusiasm bravely step over meditation [cognitive reflection] and reach up to penetrate the darkness above you. Then beat on that thick cloud of unknowing with the sharp arrow of longing and never stop loving, no matter what comes your way. . . . — Richard Rohr

When we find ourselves immersed in struggle, we find ourselves trafficking in more than the superficial, more than the mundane. That’s why maturity has very little to do with age. That’s why wisdom has more to do with experience that it does with education. We begin to feel in ways we could never feel before the struggle began. … After we ourselves know struggle, we begin to weigh one value against another, to choose between them and the future, rather than simply the present, as our measure. Some things, often quite common things, we come to realize—peace, security, love—are infinitely better than the great things —the money, the position, the fame—that we once wanted for ourselves. Then we begin to make different kinds of decisions. — Joan Chittister

Not Knowing

Who would set a limit to the mind of man? Who would dare assert that we know all there is to be known? — Galileo Galilei

Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is! — Anne Frank

I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did. I said I didn’t know. — Mark Twain

Twasn’t me, ’twas the Lord! I always told Him, ‘I trust to you. I don’t know where to go or what to do, but I expect You to lead me,’ an’ He always did. — Harriet Tubman
You can’t be afraid to fail. It’s the only way you succeed – you’re not gonna succeed all the time, and I know that. — LeBron James
Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care. — Theodore Roosevelt

I don’t know. ― Jack Kerouac
You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life. — Zig Ziglar

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing. — Socrates

I know nothing, except the fact of my ignorance. — Diogenes
Luck? I don’t know anything about luck. I’ve never banked on it and I’m afraid of people who do. Luck to me is something else: Hard work – and realizing what is opportunity and what isn’t. — Lucille Ball

Be happy with being you. Love your flaws. Own your quirks. And know that you are just as perfect as anyone else, exactly as you are. — Ariana Grande

Part of the issue of achievement is to be able to set realistic goals, but that’s one of the hardest things to do because you don’t always know exactly where you’re going, and you shouldn’t. — George Lucas

If you don’t know where you make your mistakes, that’s your worst mistake: not knowing where your mistakes are at. — Meek Mill

How can people change their minds about us if they don’t know who we are? — Harvey Milk

What I’ve come to know is that in life, it’s not always the questions we ask, but rather our ability to hear the answers that truly enriches our understanding. Never, never stop learning. — Lester Holt

We still do not know one thousandth of one percent of what nature has revealed to us. — Albert Einstein

Knowledge is knowing that we cannot know. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

To know yet to think that one does not know is best; Not to know yet to think that one knows will lead to difficulty. — Lao Tzu

It isn’t what we don’t know that gives us trouble, it’s what we know that ain’t so. — Will Rogers

How You Know— Joe Mills
How do you know if it’s love?
she asks, and I think if you have to ask, it’s not,
but I know this won’t help.
I want to say you’re too young to worry about it,
as if she has questions about Medicare or social security,
but this won’t help either.
“You’ll just know” is a lie,
and one truth, “when you still want to be with them the next morning,”
would involve too many follow-up questions.
The difficulty with love, I want to say,
is sometimes you only know afterwards
that it’s arrived or left.
Love is the elephant and
we are the blind mice unable to understand the whole.
I want to say love is this desire to help
even when I know I can’t,
just as I couldn’t explain electricity, stars,
the color of the sky, baldness, tornadoes,
fingernails, coconuts, or the other things
she has asked about over the years,
all those phenomena whose daily existence
seems miraculous. Instead I shake my head.
I don’t even know how to match my socks.
Go ask your mother. She laughs and says,
I did. Mom told me to come and ask you.

THIS WEEK with Jackson Community Church and Around Town Mon, Jan 22 – Mon, Jan 26

WED, Jan 22

  • TUNE UP FITNESS with Laurie McAleer 
    9am • Parish House. 
    Fitness class. Free; open to public. Stretching and fitness workouts with certified fitness coach Laurie McAleer. Exercises can be adjusted to individual needs.
    6pm / 7pm • Potluck Dinner followed by Meeting
    Community meal and annual meeting to review reports and approve 2020’s proposed budget, officers and leadership nominations, and address any additional business items for life and mission of church. Open to all: members and friends welcome; members & associate members may vote.

THURS, Jan 23

    9am • Granite State Technology Park
    Rescheduled from last week due to weather.
  • Community Service: WAY STATION
    9am & 5pm • 15 Grove St, No Conway
    Friends, members & staff of Jackson Community Church are among volunteers to staff these shifts.
  • YIN RESTORATIVE YOGA for the Mindful Body with Anjali Rose9am • Jackson Community Church
    This new yoga workshop series is for 6 weeks and focuses on bringing both relaxation to the mind, body and spirit, while activating healing in the joints, connective tissues and fascia of the body. This class is suitable for all levels.  If you have injuries, (which we all do) special emphasis is placed on supportive poses. Note: 6 weeks $60.
  • Community Event: AFTER-SCHOOL NORDIC 
    3:30pm • Jackson XC Ski Touring CenterAfter-school Nordic program for Jackson Grammar School students. More info.
  • Community Event: EVENING CRAFT-UP
    4pm • Jackson Public Library
    Bring an existing craft to do with neighbors at the library!
  • Community Event: LIFE BELOW the ICE
    7pm • Nature Learning Center, Albany
    When the lakes and ponds in NH freeze over what happens? Do the animals and plants hibernate? OR is there a rich diverse world that we never see or hear about? Spend an with Chief Executive Fish Nerd, Clay Groves, Licensed Ice Fishing Guide and Podcast Host.
    Evening • Shannon Door
    Proceeds from pizza sales and fundraising activities support Bartlett 8th Grade Class Trip.
  • AA
    6:30pm • Jackson Community Church, 2nd Floor

FRI, Jan 24

    7-9am • Jackson Community Church, 2nd Floor
    Come by to talk. Or make a date to go for a walk or meet privately by texting/calling Rev Gail’s cell @ 978.273.0308.
    9:30am • Way Station, 15 Grove St
    Discussion of logistics and setup for this community initiative.
  • Private Class: AVALANCHE CLASS
    8:30am-5pm • Jackson Community Church
    Class for back-country winter skiers and hikers to prepare for survival and response to avalanche conditions.
  • Community Event: SLIDERS & GLIDERS
    1-3pm – Jackson XC Ski Touring Center
    JCC friends and members participate in this community-wide event. All abilities welcome. $15/visit or $50/season. Go out on trails with instructors and friends. Snacks and beverages follow on-site.

SAT, Jan 25

  • Community Event: SEWING SUPERHEN
    10:30am • Jackson Public Library
  • Community Event: SNOW-SCULPTING 
    All Day • Black Mountain
  • Community Event: DACAPO CONCERT
    4pm • Whitney Community Center
    Performing music by James Taylor, Dolly Parton, Dave Brubeck, Green Day, Sara Bareilles, and many more. More info. 
    6pm – Soup & Salad / 7pm – Concert by Bennett & Perkins • Nativity Lutheran Church
    Proceeds benefit Way Station and Mt Washington Valley Recovery. Links to purchase tickets: $25/pp . Dinner of soups and other enticing food offerings served up in unique hand-thrown, hand-crafted pottery bowls donated by local potter Jennie Lanoie and students. Attendees get to take home the bowls. Dinner followed by with folk musicians Bennett & Perkins, joined by multi-instrumentalist Taylor Whiteside.

SUN, Jan 26

    8am • Old Red Library
    Come for poetry, prayer and conversation.
    7-9:25am – Bib Pickup / 9:30am – Race • Jackson XC Ski Touring Center
    To participate or volunteer: link for registration and info. Rev Gail provides blessing prior to start of race.
    10:10am • Jackson Community Church
    Come to learn this Sunday’s selected hymns and help lead the congregation in song.
    10:30am • Jackson Community Church
    * Message: Gail Doktor
    * Music Director: Alan Labrie
  • COMMUNITY REMEMBRANCE of ‘Jacquie ‘ Jacquelyn Jones
    5pm • Shannon Door

Farewell to John Howe

Farewell to John Howe

John Burnham Howe, 93, of Jackson NH, has completed his final hike.  He died January 20, 2020, after a long and vibrant life.  
John was born in Boston July 8, 1926. He attended Deerfield Academy and Princeton University, and, in 1945, served briefly in the Army Air Corps.  His varied career was primarily in geology and meteorological sciences. In the early ’60s he worked with NASA on the first generation of weather satellites, Tiros 1. During this time, he lived in Fairbanks, Alaska with his wife, Mary.

As a young man, John worked for the AMC, skinning mules, packing loads up to the Lakes of the Clouds and Madison huts, and working as a hutman. He was a member of the Old Hutman’s Association.

Beginning in the 1950s, his love of hiking led to a tradition on the Summer Solstice, of hiking from Randolph to Bartlett, covering the entire Presidential Range in one day. He continued this ritual well into his 70s.

John worked for many years at the Mount Washington Observatory, serving as staff engineer, scientist, and weather observer, earning the title of “Icingologist”, for his expertise in deciphering the vagaries of ice accumulation at altitude. He was known as the Old Man on the Mountain. While working at the Observatory he made many of his shift changes on foot and skis, when weather allowed — and sometimes when it didn’t. 

 One of John’s 15 minutes of fame came when he was a contestant on the long-running game show, To Tell The Truth. He appeared as himself, a Mount Washington weather observer. He did not stump the panel, his sturdy Yankee persona was impossible to disguise. 
After retiring, John and Mary sailed their 31-foot wooden sloop, Vixen, from Maine to the Bahamas several times. Back in New England, when not at their home in Jackson, N.H., they sailed the coast of Maine, where they had many adventures with friends and family. While John would have demurred, his four children’s love of hiking, sailing, the natural world, good writing, music and a well-spun tale were shaped by his examples and tutelage. His long marriage with Mary proved a fine mix of adventure and domestic homesteading comedy that made it seem archetypal. 
While fly-fishing, hiking, tinkering with old Volvos and even older clocks abated in the last several years of his life, John was still cutting and splitting his own firewood until just a few years ago. Recently he was still reading Horatio Hornblower and Patrick O’Brian; and listening to Brahms, Handel, Hayden and Mozart. 
His sister, Elizabeth Howe Verrill, and his brother, Nicholas, predeceased John. His beloved wife of 58 years, Mary, died just 6 weeks before he did.  John leaves behind son Andrew Howe and his wife Gay, of Jackson, NH; son, Nathaniel Howe and his wife Pamela, of Belfast, Maine; daughter Catherine (Cuppy) and her husband Dick Gordon, of Wellesley, Massachusetts; daughter Lucy and her husband Reese Hersey, of East Calais, Vermont.  John also leaves behind 7 grandchildren, Whitney and Spencer Howe; Molly Howe and her husband Jake Newton; John (Gus), Charlie, and Sam Gordon; and Ogden (Noggo) Hersey. The family will have a private ceremony in the spring.  Donations in John’s name can be made to the Mount Washington Observatory, P. O. Box 2310, North Conway, NH 03860.