To make the winter days more hopeful, I decided to start a series of things I am grateful for.
Today, I am grateful for handwarmers made by my friend Lucy, and for a boyfriend that is willing to walk me home in this frigid weather.
A few months ago, I began going with Mercy to Barnes & Noble to study. Every time I would give myself a break after finishing an assignment and would wander from aisle to aisle while admiring the books. One afternoon, I walked through the Philosophy section and grabbed a book title Works of Love. I read the review and was tempted to buy the book, but when I looked at the price decided to place it back in its shelf. However, my mind changed after a few visits and I decided to spoil myself, so I bought the book.
It was not until yesterday, however, that I was able to begin reading Kierkegaard’s piece. I read the foreword, translators’ introduction, author’s preface, and prayer–then I stopped. There were two things that kept me from reading ahead: something mentioned by the author of the foreword (George Pattison), and something mentioned by Kierkegaard.
First, Pattison suggest a way in which we ought to read the Kierkegaard’s discourses: “Although…there is often a clear link between one discourse and the next, each is a self-sufficient entity that it can be read and appreciated on its own. We are not to finish one and hurry on to the next, but are to consider how each can be made fruitful in its own terms” (xvi).
Second, Kierkegaard writes in his own preface: “These are Christian reflections; therefore they are not about love but about the works of love” (xxvii).
These two statements make me both excited and afraid to read the reflections. Works of Love refer to my actions as a Christian, as a product of the love in me, as a reflection of Christ who lives in me. I am afraid to continue reading and find that my actions are not the fruit produced by God’s love in me. I’m afraid I will find that I have not been a good enough neighbor, friend, daughter. Nonetheless, I am anxious to read on and be illuminated. I am anxious to know if my actions have not been the fruit of love, for if it is so, then I will be challenged and changed.
Additionally, Pattison’s statement calls me to take time and think about each reflection read. As a form of reflection I will write, blog; And hopefully invite anyone who reads this to be illuminated and transformed along with me.
“Thanks:” such a simple word, yet it carries so much weight.
Lately, I have seen the power of gratitude. When we learn to live life by giving thanks for all the things that we have–that we are blessed with, yet we don’t deserve–we are much happier. This semester I’ve had to learn the art of thanking. The amount of homework for my classes had become overwhelming; the other duties I had to fulfill were starting to feel like enslaving shackles, as opposed to opportunities to serve those around me. However, as I began giving more thanks an being grateful for another day of life I was being granted by God, I realized my spirit was uplifted and strengthened. Such a simple word, yet it brought so much light into my life. Although I became pessimistic about all the things I felt obligated to do, the gratitude I felt towards God enlightened the gratitude I felt toward those around me.
Tonight I had the opportunity to share the moving and changing force of gratitude–although I might say it is as powerful, moving, and changing as the force of gravity–with the girls on my floor. Earlier this evening, we gathered in the basement of our building and broke bread together. We prayed. We gave thanks; we were grateful for God’s grace and forgiveness, for our families, for our roommates and friends, for our floor’s community.
There is nothing else I can write that can truly portray how I feel about gratitude. All I know is that I am happy and content. I am grateful for God’s love, my family, friends, and community. I give thanks and I am at peace.
“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world” ~John Milton
From the first time I heard one of Jon Foreman’s songs, all of his songs have spoken to my soul. His songs aren’t upbeat, but they make me feel safe and at peace; I had not understood why this was. This morning, I finished reading the book of Micah. While reading, I came across a verse and instantly thought of a song by Jon Foreman. After I was done reading, I went to my room to listen to some music, and after scrolling through a few artists I ended up listening to Jon Foreman. I went down to the song that I had remembered this morning and as I listened to the lyrics, tears began to fill my eyes. It made sense! The reason why his songs speak to me and give me a sense of peace is that the come from the words of the One who gives me peace. The words of the songs were God’s words layered with the notes of an acoustic guitar. There are no words more precious than those who breathe life into me; there are no songs more precious than those that remind me of such words.
Equally Skilled by Jon Foreman
How miserable I am
I feel like a fruitpicker who arrived here
after the harvest
There’s nothing here at all
There’s nothin at all here that could placate my hunger
“What misery is mine! I am like one who gather summer gruit at the gleaning of the vineyard; there is no cluster of grapes to eat, none of the early figs that I crave” -Micah 7:1
The godly people are all gone
There’s not one honest soul left alive here on this planet
We’re all murders and theives
Setting traps here for even our brothers
“The godly have been swept from the land; not one upright man remains. All men lie in wait to shed blood; each hunts his brother with a net” -Micah 7:2
And both of our hands
Are equally skilled
At doing evil
At bribing the judges
At perverting justice
Both of our hands
Both of our hands
“Both hands are skilled in doing evil; the ruler demands gifts. the judge accepts bribes, the powerful dictate what they desire- they all conspire together” -Micah 7:3
The day of justice comes
And is even now swiftly arriving
Don’t trust anyone at all
Not your best friend or even your wife
“The day of your watchmen has come, the day God visits you… Do not trust a neighbor; put no confidence in a friend. Even with her who lies in your embrace” -Micah 7:4-5
For the son hates the father
The daughter despises even the mother
Look! Your enemies are right
Right in the room of your very household
“For a son dishonor his father, a daughter rises up against her mother” -Micah 7:6
And both of their hands are equally skilled
No, don’t gloat over me
For though I fall, though I fall
I will rise again
Though I sit here in darkness
The Lord, the Lord alone
He will be my light
I will be patient as the Lord
Punishes me for the wrongs
I’ve done against him
After that he’ll take my case
Bringing me to light and to justice
For all I have suffered
“Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen I will rise. Though I sit here in darkness, the Lord will be my light. Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the Lord’s wrath, until he pleads my case and establishes my right. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness” -Micah 7:9
And both of his hand are equally skilled
At ruining evil
At judging the judges
Both of his hands
Both of his hands are equally skilled
At showing them mercy
At loving the loveless
Both of his hands
Both of his hands
This post is as undefined as the nature of the relationship between S. Johnson and Mrs. Thrale. I don’t think I would have been able to write the previous sentence if I had not gone through major philosophers this semester. I don’t think I would have been able to take the previously mentioned class if it had not been for Robby’s classes and Lewis’s literature. I wouldn’t have been able to take Robby’s classes if a mistake had not been made when I registered for my classes, fall semester of freshman year. It would have taken me longer to discover Lewis if it had not been for a sixteen hour trip to Guatemala , and The Great Divorce as my only enternatinment -given that my discman batteries had died after the first four hours of our trip; yes, I read it during an era when I still made use of a portable discman. The Great Divorce would not have landed in my hands if it hadn’t been for former Ms Partridge, current Mrs. Deibert. I would have never obtained the book from Ms Partridge if I had not attended NCA. I would have not attended NCA if I hadn’t been transferred to a bilingual school. I would not have been transferred to a bilingual school if we wouldn’t have moved to Honduras. I wouldn’t have moved to Honduras had my dad not taken a consulting job there. My dad wouldn’t have taken a consulting job in Tegucigalpa if he had not gone into project management and development. My dad wouldn’t have gone into the previously mentioned field if he hadn’t continued his studies. My dad would not have continued his studies, had he remained as a surgeon at the hospital. My dad would not have worked at a hospital if he had not done his service years as a medicine student, during war-time….
A break in my though process…
If my dad wouldn’t have done his service years, he wouldn’t have met my mom. If my dad hadn’t met my mom then I wouldn’t have been born….
If I hadn’t been born I wouldn’t have been raised by my parents; wouldn’t have moved to Honduras; wouldn’t have transferred to a bilingual school; wouldn’t have attended NCA; wouldn’t have met former Ms. Partridge, current Mrs. Deibert; wouldn’t have been introduced to The Great Divorce; wouldn’t have read The Great Divorce in my sixteen hour trip to Guatemala -a trip where my discman’s batteries decided to die; wouldn’t have been introduced to Lewis’s works; wouldn’t have had a partial motivation to take Major Philosophers; wouldn’t have come to Bethel; wouldn’t have had a mistake in my registration, fall semester of freshman year; wouldn’t have been part of Block 7; wouldn’t have taken any Robby classes; wouldn’t have had a partial motivation to take Major Philosophers; wouldn’t have learned about Lewis and Johnson; wouldn’t be able to describe the nature of the relationship between S. Johnson and Mrs. Thrale as “undefined”….
Wouldn’t be writing this blog post.
I had not written in a while because I was not able to define my thoughts; but tonight that barrier has been lifted.
I am able to write again.