The challenge with writing is that you want to engage an audience. What engages people is to criticize and take on effecting some kind of change at the level of ideas. I tried this in Part 1.

Yet, to take such a stance of criticism is to say to life, to the world, and to God: I reject what is for what ought to be; I think what I have, and what I am, can be better. And I need to work hard to remove what is and replace it with something better. 

We do this in so much of our lives. We transform the land, we renovate our houses, and we get dressed up; we improve our profiles, our resumes, our cars, our bodies, and our partners. We work on what is – rejecting it, reforming it, reshaping it – out of our own alienation from it.  And this attitude is the source of so much living in conflict, i.e., not living in peace. And that is being not at home; it is absence.

I am thankful for the presence of Christ, who is all and in all.

As so often happens on Sunday mornings, I sat with a cup of coffee thinking about whether I should wake up my wife and my kids to try to get to church at a reasonable time – so that we could worship and pray together with others. Today, I didn’t make the effort. I put the thought out of my mind – or rather, I let the thought flow through me and out of me. I felt my anxiety rise up as I considered the against-the-stream effort it would take to move them. I felt my anxiety rise up when I considered what others would think of me at church if we didn’t show up. But then I looked at the red leaves holding on to the chokecherry tree I planted with my own hands. I felt the warmth of our cat as it lay next to my hip. I listened to a bird chirping outside my window. I took a breath. I took in the marvelous colors of red, yellow, orange, green, brown, and shades of blue, white, and grey that wash over me. I marveled at the street in front of my window, now strangely quiet because construction has blocked the road further up.

I am thankful for the presence of Christ, who is all and in all: for the warm flow of a beverage that warms my cool feet; for my spouse who is thankful for her artful friends; for the opportunity to be with friends; I am thankful for Christ in me.

As I have said, we are to aspire to be better. There is no “should” in this advice. There is only “Yes”! Yes to myself. Yes to my daughter. Yes to my son. Yes to my friend. Yes to my anxiety that causes no action, but flows through me like a hospital visit at the end of visiting hours. I say Yes to my spouse, to another cup of coffee, to staying a little longer in the cacophony of color. I say yes to another breath of life, to Christ in and around me.

And my aspiration to be better is exactly that. I am better at learning how to “be”; instead of acting and doing out of profound alienation, I learn to be – in gratitude, in presence, in eternal life.

I am thankful for the presence of Christ, who is all and in all.

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