“At arrival of gratitude, theology slid away like a heavy coat.”
-Leif Enger, Virgil Wander
I love three things about this quote. First, I love that gratitude arrives. It’s hard to force gratitude. You can practice politeness and teach folks to say “thank you” but the deep awareness that life is a gift more often than not, arrives out of some experience. When you have struggled with infertility and finally you hold a child in your arms and name him, gratitude arrives. When the doctor says after the tragic accident “she’s going to be ok,” gratitude arrives. When the hydrangeas blossom on a cool June evening, gratitude arrives, unbidden.
I love thinking of theology as a heavy coat. Thinking about God feels heavy sometimes. And yet a coat is necessary to keep us warm. Theology is not just for preachers or academics. Everyone wonders, “is there a God and if so, what is God like?” You don’t even have to be religious to ponder why we are here on this earth and how we are to find meaning and purpose in our days. When we visit Mom after a stroke and she can no longer speak, we ask “Where is God?” When we read about those who are persecuted because of sexual orientation or skin color, religion or nationality, we question if God’s love is really real.
And I love the image “slid away,” because it reminds me that this life of faith is not only our doing, our thinking, our serving but something way beyond us, something deep within us. A few weeks ago, the KU choir sang at all three services and three times, my heart was lifted to a place I hadn’t thought possible as I arrived at church that morning. Tonight as I write, I hear the chancel choir rehearsing down the hall and my spirits are lifted. As we wrap up a year here at the church, I look back with deep gratitude for all who have served in myriad ways so that God’s love might be made real in our community. Our staff team amazes me every single day with their dedicated service and generous wisdom. My family, in all its uniqueness, brings me deep and abiding joy and makes me laugh. In rare moments, the presence of God overtakes us.
Grace and peace,