On Tuesdays and Thursdays around these parts, Preston and I write letters back and forth. We share the wonder of mystery, grace and our encounters with mercy. We hope to see you in the comments. Read the letter I'm responding to here.
It was good to talk to you, again, good to ramble in real words in real time. There is nothing quite like matching hand gestures with words, is there? I think it's one of my favorite parts of being with people in real life - seeing how all their good words live inside them. Seeing how they think.
It is good to step out into the sea knowing that God already knows how waves and wind work. Perhaps that is the moment of Peter's falling short - he forgot as he walked towards Jesus that God already knew wind and waves. God already knew, and therefore, would already provide. But Peter doubts that God knows, that God is in control, and so he begins to sink.
So we must step into the oceans of what is next trusting that all the wind and waves we find are already known to Him. And He provides everything.
I was thinking earlier on Sunday about this question of gifts. Ann Voskamp is so right - there are thousands of gifts and they are all sizes. There are thousands of gifts and most go unacknowledged. But there is something beyond acknowledging joy.
I have gotten good at the acknowledgement. At least, I'm much better at acknowledging it than I used to be. I count my way to 1,000 gifts, and I make mental lists of surprising ways He is near to me. I can talk about how air rips through my lungs on a long run in the woods, and feeling the sun warm the ground. I can write down how He gifts with family, with the protection of time to be together (with dinner eaten around the same table every night, and conversations that go on for hours). I want to write these things down. I want to remember, and acknowledge.
There is something nagging at the back of my mind that says the acknowledgement is not where it ends. It does not end with a journal list in a nightstand table drawer.
My acknowledgement turns lazy. I fall into a familiar pattern of giving thanks. I stop thinking about it, really, and run through my day with a laundry list of gifts He's given and no real sense of awe that He gave.
Do you ever wonder about that? How we can keep our hearts, so inclined to inertia, so habitual and rusted, always drawing nearer to Him?
I think of how St. Teresa of Avila looked in that Bernini sculpture, tucked away in the Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome. It's called the Ecstasy of St. Teresa, but I remember thinking that her face was singing for His goodness. That is what we must do. We must count and then sing. Beyond acknowledging the joy, I think we must sing about His goodness.
In words, certainly. In the book. In the thesis. We must sing beyond that, too - in our friendships and our fights and our hope for the future. We must sing it, fearlessly, and even when (like me some days) the hope flickers and sputters, the words feel like they reach no one, or the mountains of work feel insurmountable.
We must sing for His goodness.