A couple of years ago, in conversation between classes, a student said to me, “I used to try to learn about God, but searching made me feel unhappy. Now, I don’t believe and I don’t try to believe.”
Faith in God, like breathing, is essential to me, and has been as long as I can remember, so the student might as well have been saying: I tried to breathe and I couldn’t, so I just stopped trying.
I wondered how he stood talking, quite lively, rather than slouched, blue and limp, along life’s way. I was intrigued and wanted to know more about his approach to life and how it differed from mine.
My faith often influences my thought life. Throughout my day I think prayers like: Thank you. Or, help! Or, I’m really worried could you calm my thoughts? Or, I really messed up that interaction—I’m sorry.
I wondered about someone who didn’t practice faith. When he encounters various life situations, what are his thoughts like?
The day the student and I talked was an unseasonably spectacular fall day. Sunlight warmed us and bounced on leaves that pivoted in the breeze showing off vibrant colors. The breeze playfully rearranged my hair and nudged my skin with playful taunts that seemed to say, I can touch you, but you don’t even know how to try to touch me.
Many people were outside, walking, sitting on benches, sprawled on the grass, enjoying the display of Pennsylvania’s outdoor features—like the day was autumn’s grand finale and everyone wanted to experience it. More so, because we knew drab winter was on the way.
I asked the student what he thought about that day’s fine weather and he agreed, “It’s a magnificent day.”
“On a day like this, I feel striking feelings of gratitude that I want to express,” I said.
“Absolutely. Me. Too.” he said.
“So how do you express your gratitude? What do you say?” I asked. Continue reading “Gratitude—don’t settle for a warped version of FoMO”