What would your answer be if I were to ask you, "Which piece of punctuation in the English language has the most power?" You might think it would be the exclamation point "!", it is used to show excitement or yelling or imperative commands. STOP! If I really wanted to emphasize that, I just need to add a few more, STOP!!!
Although, maybe you would come to the conclusion that it is the more often used period ".". Just that little tiny dot at the end of a sentence. It tells you though that the thought has ended. Although if we use a few together the thought leaves you hanging... Still. if. I. use. it. like. this. You probably just added a pause after each word.
What if I told you I think the question mark is the piece of punctuation that holds the most power? Would you think I am silly? Would you think I am wrong? When we use the question mark, we are not really in a position of power. If you have to stop to ask for directions, you have to admit you don't know where you are. If you ask a question you have to admit that you don't know the answer. If you ask for help, you have to admit you cannot do it on your own. It makes us vulnerable.
However, there is real power in being vulnerable, because it opens us up. It opens us up to getting directions, answers, and help certainly. It also opens us up to really being...well...human beings. In those moments where we have to ask questions, there is the possibility that we won't get what we need, directions, answers, or help. Perhaps the answer will even hurt, "Can you still love me after that?", "Will he survive?", "Why didn't I listen to her?"
It really leaves power out of our hands rather than in them, but a question demands a response. Yes, sometimes the response is no answer, or an answer we cannot handle, but those are responses nonetheless. Sometimes though, a simple question can stir great action. Our small congregation in the middle of rural Ohio managed to construct and collect more than 300 personal care kits to help people in Nepal. That is a third of amount the international organization we were helping was able to send to Nepal initially. It all started with the question of, "Can we do something to help the people of Nepal?"
So I leave you with these two questions:
"Question mark 3d" by User:Husky - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Question_mark_3d.png#/media/File:Question_mark_3d.png
For more on the power of vulnerability watch Brene Brown's TED talk
Pastor Jarrod Schaaf has been ordained as a minister in the ELCA and was the past Pastor at St. Paul in North Robinson.