One of the most familiar complaints of the surly teenager also happens to be one of the most fundamental of theological truths: I didn’t ask to be born. None of us asked to be born, and yet here we all are, waking up every day in a world we didn’t make.
It’s Thanksgiving Week here in the United States—a good time to reflect on the givenness of things.
In preparation for Thanksgiving, I’ve been re-reading Brian Doyle’s One Long River of Song. The book ends with a “Last Prayer,” which Doyle wrote shortly before he died of cancer, at the age of sixty. He prayed,
I could complain a little here about the long years of back pain and the occasional awful heartbreak, but Lord, those things were infinitesimal against the slather of gifts You gave mere me, a muddle of a man, so often selfish and small. But no man was ever more grateful for Your profligate generosity, and here at the very end, here in my last lines, I close my eyes and weep with joy that I was alive, and blessed beyond measure, and might well be headed back to the incomprehensible Love from which I came, mewling, many years ago.
In the foreword of the same book, Doyle’s friend David James Duncan writes, “Brian Doyle lived in the pleasure of bearing daily witness to quiet glories hidden in people places, and creatures of little or no size, renown, or commercial value.”Read More