Lost and Kind

Everything we write reveals a bit of the life behind it.

Even my grocery list reflects where and how I live.  My eating and cooking habits have gradually changed over the years and especially this year since I spend more time cooking and looking at recipes. I had never tasted the sweetness of spot prawns caught in British Columbia waters. I’ve learned about different kinds of salmon: sockeye and Coho, Chinook and Pink. I painfully watched the salmon spawn at Goldstream Park near me in early November, imbuing gratitude to witness their struggle for new life.

Victoria is filled with small grocers and I shop at one, The Root Cellar, housed in a primitive building with large black tent-like structures attached and filled with an abundant array of fresh produce.  The only frozen vegetable I buy now is peas. Green peas my husband calls them.  That is a story, too.  When we first met I learned his family ate black-eyed peas and my family only ate peas—the round green ones.  That distinction remains on the grocery list, a reminder of the shape of family, after 42 years of eating together.

What I also know is that writing holds lives that are rewritten by the reader. 

In another blog, I wrote about kindness and I intended to include the poem, Kindness, by Naomi Shihab Nye.  I feel like I know her, even though I don’t really, since her writing has been around me often in my teaching life.  Her poetry needed a place of its own. here. And, the story that brought the poem with it. 

I listened not long ago as Naomi Shihab Nye told the story that gave this poem to her.  Naomi and her husband of one week were traveling through Popayan, Columbia.  The young couple planned to stay in South America for three months.  At the end of their first week, they were robbed of everything and a man on the bus they were riding was killed.  Life was interrupted.

Naomi recalls their shock, “And what do you do now? We didn’t have passports. We didn’t have money. We didn’t have anything. What should we do first? Where do we go? Who do we talk to?”  

As they sat on the plaza of that unfamiliar place, a man came up to them and was simply kind. He must have noticed their distress and asked, “What happened to you?” They attempted to retell their experience and he responded, “I’m very sorry. I’m very, very sorry that happened,” and he went on.  

As her husband left to go to a larger town to find help, Naomi recalled that she “sat there alone in a bit of a panic, night coming on, trying to figure out what I was going to do next, this voice came across the plaza and spoke this poem to me — spoke it. And I wrote it down.”

Before you know what kindness really is

you must lose things,

feel the future dissolve in a moment

like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your hand,

what you counted and carefully saved,

all this must go so you know

how desolate the landscape can be

between the regions of kindness.

How you ride and ride

thinking the bus will never stop,

the passengers eating maize and chicken

will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness

you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho

lies dead by the side of the road.

You must see how this could be you,

how he too was someone

who journeyed through the night with plans

and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,

you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.

You must wake up with sorrow.

You must speak to it till your voice

catches the thread of all sorrows

and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,

only kindness that ties your shoes

and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,

only kindness that raises its head

from the crowd of the world to say

It is I you have been looking for,

and then goes with you everywhere

like a shadow or a friend.

That’s how kindness is medicine, a “balm in Gilead” as the old hymn goes.  We are healed a bit in the moment we receive or give kindness because we’ve been broken or lost, and we all have.  And just like the stories of our lives that rest behind our words, if we are kind, we must see each other and ourselves with our imagination as well as with our eyes.  We must listen for the stories behind the faces and actions we sometimes don’t understand and maybe never will.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore.

The Best Medicine

Be kind.  Be calm.  Be safe. 

For a year now our Provincial health officer, epidemiologist Dr. Bonnie Henry, has repeated these three imperatives at the end of every daily update. The three adorn t-shirts, billboards, and tea towels. A close friend, for whom the pandemic has only compounded significant life challenges, said that’s what seems most important to her right now—kindness.

In an interview in our local paper this week, Dr. Henry elucidates how kindness is not just about being nice. 

Kindness is about understanding that we’re all connected, there is a common suffering, and we can’t always know how someone else is holding themselves together.  Some have support, while others don’t.  Rather than reacting, we need to take a breath and have compassion.

Maybe connection is kindness. 

Each week I email a Sunday lesson for the children in our congregation.  We are fortunate to have a curriculum that emphasizes contemplative practices.  A couple of weeks ago, one of those practices was to help us think about God by remembering God’s creation and by observing God’s way.  Each evening, we remember what we did and saw that day using these suggestions:

I’ve been ending the day answering these questions myself most evenings and noticing matters.

  • Sit quietly for a moment.
  • What beauty do you remember seeing in the world today?
  • Give God thanks for creating the beauty in our world.
  • When did you see someone showing God’s love to someone else?
  • Give thanks for teaching us how to be loving and kind.

The street where I live has no sidewalks and is only accessible to enter from the north end except for walkers and cyclist.  So, it not unusual for people to literally walk down the middle of the street and that is what I observed as I set out with the dog in the late afternoon.  Two men (I am assuming dads) and two tiny girls were walking; the girls in the middle of the street, holding each other’s hand.  They were dressed appropriately for the cool day in long pants and jackets and a tulle skirt happily bouncing as they walked.   As one of the girls turned, I noticed the tiny cloth mask (pandemic style) she also wore. I couldn’t help but smile. 

As my dog and I approached, the dads alerted the girls to move over so we could pass.  It was a privilege and joyful to walk behind them, but we passed and went on down the street, lighter and kinder, too.

That evening when I reflected on those questions from our Sunday lesson, I smiled again as I remembered that moment—beauty and kindness walk hand in hand. I live in an astoundingly beautiful part of the natural world and on this day, those two little ones walking offered me, simply an observer, a gift.    

Robin Wall Kimmerer, plant ecologist and author of Braiding Sweetgrass, understands kindness as a medicine that arises out of vulnerability.  The medicine in that vulnerability is an awareness that regenerates kindness and compassion.

It is cherry blossom time in Victoria.

Listen and Hear

I listened to my husband Mitch tape his meditation for Good Friday.  I co-opted his insights because I need them right now.  I write because I’m the one who needs to hear. 

Mitch considered what the Romans, the Jewish leaders, the disciples, and Jesus’ family may have heard when Jesus said, “It is finished.”  But Jesus said those words to mean something for us.  The Greek word used in “it is finished” evidently means accomplished.  Jesus was saying it is finished for us; the struggle of worrying about all those things that we worry about—and for me today, suddenly that became a lot of things. 

When I was tidying up the kitchen this evening, I got an overwhelming feeling of worry, of being afraid about things I can do nothing about, really. At that moment, the urgency and impossibility of a myriad of what if’s and actual circumstances converged.  And that is what I heard Mitch say, that is what Jesus accomplished. 

It is finished is what Jesus meant when he said: “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  Therefore, I tell you do not worry about your life…can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?  Let not your heart be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me.”

I need to hear that again and again because I forget or maybe I don’t believe my life today.

Listen and hear, Jesus say, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. Listen.

Mitch ended saying that Jesus’ last words and the spirit of those words declares that life’s greatest obstacles, even death itself, no longer need to have power over us. 

As Buechner writes to me, “unclench the fists of your spirit and take it easy.”

It is always something.

It is always something.

There was a line in Mitch’s meditation this week that got my attention. (The 8 minute meditation replaced the Sunday sermon, the new normal.)  It was one of those moments of recognition when we read something that describes or illuminates our own experience, an experience we haven’t really had the words to accept. 

The Israelites were first afraid of Pharaoh and his punishment, then the army chasing them, then the wilderness where they were headed.  Notice how their fear moved from place to place, person-to-person, and event to event.

I know what it means to lead with fear.  “What if’s” catch me before I do seemingly inconsequential and radical things. I’m afraid of how I will be perceived; I’m afraid of not doing enough. I am afraid of not knowing the ‘right’ thing, the most beneficial thing.  I don’t have to go back too far to recognize my own pattern.

When we lived in rural North Vernon and began planning our move less than 50 miles away, I was so afraid to tackle the housing market.  I did nothing to look for a place, even when I was there for school several days a week.  I was afraid of the cost and competition in the larger university town. I was afraid of the risk of living into that new unknown.

In a year or two, I was afraid Mitch’s job would end and then what would we do next?  Then I worried about how we would physically move two States away when I was the one with the new job and our dog had surgery, our daughter got married, and a close family member was critically ill.  And like all the times before, people, places, and events unfolded in time not my own.

Oddly, when my job ended at that next place, I wasn’t afraid of what was ahead. Maybe I was leaning in to the in-between with openness instead of fear, if only for a while. Until, I knew what was next.  Until, I knew that we would be moving across the country and into the next.  Again, I was afraid that we wouldn’t find a place in a city with competitive and costly housing, immigration challenges, and an island with no roads to get there.

I could go on – all the fear of being settled or not, of immigration unknowns, of getting older, of distance from our family. I never thought about a pattern of fear moving between people, events, and places.  And again, where will we be next?  There is always a next.  And maybe, that vulnerability is what I ‘m most afraid of.

I never named my anxious presence fear.  I intuited that I am just trying to get it right, this one life. I long to belong, to find my place, to be settled, to be home. 

“What would my life be like if I wasn’t afraid?” might seem the logical question to ask.  But maybe, I can see my way through by asking, “how do I fall through the fear to the other side?”

I can feel a wee bit of panic coming now, and I can feel it go. Moment-by-moment, I have the ability to let go of control, let go of security, let go of my desire to change the situation, and open to the spaciousness of acceptance.

In a prayer routine I wrote for myself more than ten years ago is this step: take counsel with my certitudes, not my doubts and fears.

I’m not exactly sure where I found that phrase, but it doesn’t matter.  It is true. 

I am certain that in all those transitions of my life, I have always had enough to take the next step.  I am certain that God is taking that step with me.

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today…. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” 

It is something.

Another Foot

I believe that living here is a gift.  Sometimes the offerings come, like in this case, sheltered in a lush stand of trees in the midst of an ordinary day.

“Since Jesus came into my heart” is a phrase and a song I heard often growing up.  Likewise, I was told we are the hands and feet of Christ in the world.  The language of my Christian faith oddly seemed to be wrapped up in my physical body and seemed to contradict the evil nature of the human form that I was also taught. I think I never quite believed that the later assertion was really the whole truth.

I took a walk with my friend Liz last week. We turned off Shelbourne Street and onto a path between a large grassy green space and a stream full of winter rain. Liz calls the path through a stand of trees “The Cathedral.” 

We have walked this path before in silence, to savour the mystery of this hidden sanctuary. When we walked last week, Liz was telling me about a poem she’d memorized.  She asked if I’d mind if she recited the words as we walked.  I didn’t mind.

She began, “We awaken in Christ’s body, as Christ awakens our bodies. There I look down…”

She was in front of me a bit and we were keeping our safe distance.  I was looking down and as my foot maneuvered the tree roots I heard, “He [Christ] enters my foot and is infinitely me.”  I felt tears come and self-consciously willed them away, realizing Christ was in me, not just “with” me, as I often imagine. 

The next words I heard were scattered: whole, in His light, the beloved, in every last part. 

The hymn, as the poem is called, were written by Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022), a Byzantine Christian monk and mystic, who believed that we have the capacity to experience God’s presence directly.  We are being “oned” into our Lord Jesus, as Julian of Norwich also expressed, a few hundred years later.  Isn’t that the same union with God that the bible is leading us toward when we say we ask Jesus into our hearts and act as God’s hands and feet in the world?

I’ve been trying to memorize the lines of the hymn myself and wake up to the words I know each morning.  I am reminded to open my heart, even though I sometimes close it up by evening.  I listen to hear again that everything that is hurt, everything that seems to me dark, harsh, shameful, maimed, ugly, or irreparably damaged is in Him transformed, and in Him, recognized as whole

And that kind of frees up my day.

We awaken in Christ’s body,

As Christ awakens our bodies

There I look down and my poor hand is Christ,

He enters my foot and is infinitely me.

I move my hand and wonderfully

My hand becomes Christ,

Becomes all of Him.

I move my foot and at once

He appears in a flash of lightning.

Do my words seem blasphemous to you?

—Then open your heart to him.

And let yourself receive the one

Who is opening to you so deeply.

For if we genuinely love Him,

We wake up inside Christ’s body

Where all our body all over,

Every most hidden part of it,

Is realized in joy as Him,

And He makes us utterly real.

And everything that is hurt, everything

That seemed to us dark, harsh, shameful,

Maimed, ugly, irreparably damaged

Is in Him transformed.

And in Him, recognized as whole, as lovely,

And radiant in His light,

We awaken as the beloved

In every last part of our body.

Saint Symeon the New Theologian

One Foot

I have so many ideas rattling around in my head and my heart.  Some of those pass on by and some are confusing and scattered and some are pieces of living that seem to rise up and go in too many directions.  I am full of my own opinions and speculations. I am spilling over with opinions and speculations of others.

Over the last weeks, maybe even months, the idea of what might be below the progenies of my overthinking self has surfaced in conversations.

As I sometimes do, I pulled out my old notebook of daily writing and remembering from at least a year ago and right there on the first page, I had copied Walter Brueggemann’s words that struck me as worth writing down at the time.

Old Testament prophets hardly ever discuss ‘an issue’…they’re going underneath the issues…to more foundational assumptions that can only be got at in elusive language.  Very much the institutional church has been pre-occupied with issues.  When we do that we are robbed of transformative power.  Because then its ideology verses ideology, and that does not produce good outcomes for anyone.

Becoming Wise: An Inquiry Into the Mystery and Art of Living by Krista Tippett

Prophets of all times embody that subversion at the heart of being human.

We can exchange many other groups for the institutional word “church” here—school, government, or any group of people with whom we identify or oppose.  And even within the issues emerging from paradoxical layers of experience hidden inside each of us.

When I was a young mother, I remember a friend lost his job with the administrative body of a major protestant denomination. Our group of supportive friends were despaired by the impact not only on his career and income, but on his family’s well-being. Somehow, he held on to a deep center.  It was that place, underneath the issues, that prevented him from not being silent about an institutional stance.  To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember what the issue was and it doesn’t seem important to remember. 

What I do remember is another conversation my friend Richard and I shared months before the surface of his life took a turn.  I remember him saying that there is a place inside us that is below our values and beliefs; that is where God comes.  I didn’t exactly know what to do with that comment, but I have not forgotten his words.  Is that place the same place Walter Brueggemann describes, where transformation is possible?

I am so quick to judge opinions and perspectives of institutions and people.  It is easy for me to surmise who is on my side or who has it all wrong, until I hear their under story—the fear that shapes us and fuels our desires and the longing to belong. I am drawn to the stories that hint at the mystery below that encourages us to give up the pretence of fearful living.

My friend Richard’s way of being in the world came at a great cost on the surface and yet, I don’t know how his life unfolded since we lost touch years ago.  I do know that in our attempt to measure a life, we sometimes catch a glimpse of that place below even when the outward expression of that deep center is not describable or definable.

How do we engage another as fully human instead of as one belonging to whatever group of assumptions we’ve assigned?  To pause long enough to experience the deep of the “unintended corners of our hearts.” To, as Vincent Harding invites us, “hear each other’s best arguments and best contributions, so that we can then figure out how do we put these things together to create a more perfect union.”

Or will we regress because, as only Walter Brueggeman can craft, “the infrastructure of fidelity is too expensive and calls us to give up our whoring after quick, private solutions.”

In the words of another of modern day prophet, Congressman John Lewis,

the results are harder to see…when people say…that things aren’t better now…I say, ‘Come and walk in my shoes.’  We are better people now in spite of everything…Yes, we still have miles to go but that’s what a journey is: putting one foot in front of the other.

In His Truth is Marching On by Jon Meacham, Afterward by John Lewis

To move out of living identified with my experience and preoccupied with myself, to sustaining a conscious relationship to my experience where my field of awareness expands, and can allow fears to be seen and interrupted… putting one foot in front of the other.

Sacred Idleness

I’ve persisted with yin yoga for the past year. It just seems like I need it. I hold each pose for 3-5 minutes in stillness, letting gravity do the work. The odd thing is that even though I find the practice sustains me, actually energizes and challenges me, I remember when I did much more active styles and wonder if I’m being lazy or slacking off in some way. 

I also lament that I’m “doing nothing” almost anytime I just read, take a nap, watch a television show, or just stand at the kitchen window marvelling at the sky, whether it is vibrant oranges like it was this morning or cloud filled grey.  Now, I don’t imagine all of these things as equal, however, at the end of the day I might ask myself, what did I do today?  None of these indulgences will make the list.

My friend, who has a striking ocean and mountain view from her front balcony, told me recently that her husband would sit in stillness in their back yard with his face toward the sky basking in the light of the day with his eyes closed. “That kind of drove me crazy,” she confessed.  I knew him as a man of uncompromising principles.

A few days ago I came upon the term, “sacred idleness.”

Certainly work is not always required of a man. There is such a thing as a sacred idleness, the cultivation of which is now fearfully neglected. Abraham, seated in his tent door in the heat of the day, would be to the philosophers of the nineteenth century an object for uplifted hands and pointed fingers. They would see in him only the indolent Arab, whom nothing but the foolish fancy that he saw his Maker in the distance, could rouse to run.       …near the end of Wilfrid Cumbermede by George MacDonald published 1872

Maybe I was drawn to “work not always required” since I struggle to define my work now that I don’t receive a pay cheque. And yet, since we moved here, I couldn’t tell you what many people I’ve met “do,” as in how they spend their time during the workday.  So, I don’t have need to lead with what I do either.

I do work steadily on the constant chatter in my head: the conversations I could have, the response I might engage, and yes, the things I could do to be kinder, more productive, and manage my life (and sometimes other people’s as well). The idea of sacred idleness, for me, might be when these voices are let go and I pay attention to observations and sensing rather than the life I’m fabricating.

Last week, Mitch and I searched out a small inlet in Sydney by the Sea, an idyllic twenty-minute drive from our house.  It was a cold and misty November day and we didn’t find enough shore to walk along very far.  We did stand still and keep a steady eye on a quintet of bundled up paddle boarders buoyed along by the higher tide toward us. They emerged round a bend of land in the distance, obscured by the dusky afternoon light and subtle rain. It was joyous to see them persist and imagine that possibility, when I’m braver; even as one said, “I can’t feel my feet,” as her rubber boots stepped from her board into the clear water’s edge. 

This week, my friend Liz and I walked through Mystic Vale. Yes, that’s the name of a forested ravine on University of Victoria grounds, a Douglas fir ecosystem trail that lives up to the name.   I particularly noticed the myriad of mosses during this rainy season and Liz was an astute observer of the tiny mushrooms on fallen trees. That’s the thing, this kind of gentle vision, without the need to talk too much, idles the noisy, self-conscious me that started out that morning.

When we imagine ourselves as part of the sacredness of everything, when we sense the loving goodness that surrounds us, we experience another kind of seeing.  Richard Wagamese reminds that our eyes deceive us.  There is a spiritual vision that comes, he says, “when we shut off our minds and use our senses.  When we touch, taste, hear, see and intuit the world around us.”  

Sacred idleness.  I believe it is the light shining on a face and wonder in the dark shadows of the drenched forest. It is in my joy at watching those who aren’t reluctant to venture into the cold water.  All of this idling in honour of and in calm surrender to the moment.    Doing nothing?

Shifting Reality

It would be easier to review the day in lament for all my selfishness and failings but that’s not what I am to do…

That’s how I began my nightly ritual, a few days ago, because that is how I felt.  Perhaps because I’ve done this enough now, even when some of those times seemed like “lists” instead of conscious reconsideration, I knew that if I persevered things would change. 

I’ve been consistently doing some form of Daily Examen, as an end of the day practice, for almost a year.  Somehow, reviewing the day in gratitude shifts my perspective.

Looking at that day’s reflection that I began despairingly in my notebook, I see that I started my review with the end of the day.  That evening, scrolling through my options for TV viewing, a Walter Brueggemann sermon was on our YouTube line up. I watched. It was a good ending to ease me into a reluctant beginning.

You see, this isn’t a “list” of things I’m thankful for or a chronological reliving of my day.  For me, reviewing the day in the presence of God engenders a larger reality.  It is not a utopia but reality that calls me to pay attention and trust the unfolding.

It would be easier to review the day in lament for all my selfishness and failings but that’s not what I am to do. I’ll begin at the end of this day.

 I’ve dabbled in the brilliance of Walter Brueggemann and his faithfulness to both scholarship and story called me to a higher place

I am grateful for good food—lemon blueberry bread, chicken spaghetti and broccoli—I had for dinner that was comforting and tasty and filled me up.

Mitch- always grateful for his honouring me and his humble and brilliant spirit. Grateful for Margaret sending me a recipe they liked—a new way for us to connect. For exuberant Malachi and the joy he brings.  For Wade’s natural ability and intellect that keep him interested in life—for his insight and willingness to let go of some things.

I am grateful for the spider and web in the window, the circle of life before our eyes.  She is back or maybe never left.

I continued in gratitude for things that expand my heart and mind for good.  And I remembered why I endured to begin my review of this day in gratitude.

When I began this post, I thought more about the sermon I heard.  Brueggemann titled the sermon on Psalm 31, Continuing Through the ‘Disruptive Conjunction.’  (Now you see why I had to listen.) He explained that the Psalmist’s complaints are interrupted by the conjunction “but” bringing a “moment of reflection with a pause for another reality.”

Reviewing my day was also the ‘disruptive conjunction’ that moved me from my experience of being narrowly focused on myself and what I didn’t accomplish to re-situate my experience in the mystery and goodness of God. 

My times are in your hand; deliver me…  Psalm 31:15

Blue Heron being himself at Island View Beach, Saanich, BC

I am still awed when the words on the page unexpectedly answer or illuminate a question or thought I’ve been mulling over.  And it happened again.

I’ve been casually sampling some of Thomas Merton’s journal entriesThis day I decided to skip from February 10 and somehow landed on October 10, 1958, seventeen years after his arrival at the Trappist Monastery in Kentucky. 

After a morning of second-guessing my decisions or, more accurately, lack of deciding anything and feeling quite self-centered, this is what I read.

Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am. 

…For it is the unaccepted self that stands in my way.

Thomas Merton, October 10, 1958

A Year with Thomas Merton

I tend to lead with fear, so; maybe I’m still a little afraid of being myself.  I will admit it has been a challenge to figure out who that is sometimes. What if—okay, this is a different kind of “what if” – what if I just did whatever I had to do and accepted what I didn’t do? 

Maybe my highest ambition could also be to be who I am—instead of all the truly unaccepting self talk of wondering if what I did is right or helpful or kind and on and on.  Maybe that truly stands in the way of loving and being loved. 

And that would have been enough of a gift from God for one day.  Yet, there was more, as I serendipitously made my way through the next part of Isaiah 45.

Woe to you who strive with your Maker,

earthen vessels with the potter!

Does the clay say to the one who fashions it,

“What are you making?”

or “Your work has no handles”

…will you question me about my children?

In my evening review of my day in gratitude, I was grateful I didn’t respond to an email that didn’t deserve a response and that I didn’t know how to tactfully say what I wanted to say and I could let that go. I was grateful for a kindness when I thoughtfully changed my mind, I was grateful for an email of affirmation from my friend when I had just talked about myself instead of asking how she was doing in an earlier conversation. I was grateful for Mitch who does let me be myself.  I was grateful for the assurance of Merton’s own revelation and God’s blatant challenge from Isaiah.

Be who I am and pray for courage to accept the me God made.

Time After Time

I was reluctant to write today.  My resolve for being a witness through these pages waned. As I did my morning reading, I was unsure about what I represented as the sacred in my world.  And then when I picked up my computer, I remembered something that made sense for today, this Election Day in the United States.

Earlier this fall, I read The Return of Ansel Gibbs, one of the few books by Frederick Buechner I hadn’t read.  It was published in 1957 and like all Buechner’s writing, in my experience, the story affirms literary philosopher Mikkail Bakhtin’s thinking that the novel is never finished.  The dialogue is not bound to the original contextual meanings but is always being rewritten, so to speak, in our reading and in conversation with our own times.

In the novel, Ansel Gibbs is being appointed to a cabinet position by the President of the United States, subject to congressional approval, of course.  At this critical juncture, near the end of the tale, Ansel Gibbs’ lifelong friend and Anglican priest, Dr. Kuykendall remembered a moment when he addressed young seminarians. With trembling hands on a heavy leather Bible, he said,

If you tell me Christian commitment is a thing that has happened to you once and for all like some kind of spiritual plastic surgery, I say go to, go to, you’re either pulling the wool over your own eyes or trying to pull it over mine.  Every morning you should wake up in your beds and ask yourself: ‘Can I believe it all again today?’  No, better still, don’t ask it till after you’ve read The New York Times, till after you’ve studied that daily record of the world’s brokenness and corruption, which should always stand side by side with your Bible.  Then ask yourself if you can believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ again for that particular day.  If your answer’s always Yes, then you probably don’t know what believing means.  At least five times out of ten the answer should be No because the No is as important as the Yes, maybe even more so.  The No is what proves you’re a man in case you should ever doubt it.  And then if some morning the answer happens to be really Yes, it should be a Yes that’s choked with confession and tears and … great laughter.  Not a beatific smile, but the laughter of wonderful incredulity.

The Return of Ansel Gibbs, p. 303

I read that maybe there is no such thing as time.  Maybe, we only have this moment, with its own story.