33: The Near End



“On my island off the coast of Maine, I lived with the sea.  The whole ocean in its vastness I do not know.  I never sailed the tropic ocean where the Orinoco and the Amazon pour out their floods; I never watched the Artic and Antarctic seas wash their ice packs.  Wide areas of the oceans are to me unknown, but I still know the ocean.  It has a near end. Its waters surround my island.  I can sit beside it, bathe in it, sail over it, watch its storms, and be sung to rest by the music of it.”  Harry Emerson Fosdick

As I watch this thirty-second year of life come to an end, I confess my ignorance of all that remains unknown.  My curiosity is limited by time.  My motherhood is limited by having only two hands, one mouth, and one mind.  My ministry is limited by my flaws and my distaste for them.  My words are limited by the inability to recall it all.  My experiences are limited by the boundaries of my race, gender, and class.  My theology is limited by the finitude of my human grasp.

And yet, I profess that what I have known of life’s “near end” is wonder enough for a lifetime.

May I be content with the grandeur of breath flowing in and out.
May I be satisfied with the joy of the mind awake with pen in hand.
May I be awed with the mystery of human beings who feel safe in my care.

I do not know all that I should, and another thirty-two years will not be enough to overcome my ignorance.  But I revel in the “near end” that I have come to know.  I pause and give thanks for it all – humbled in the confession and wonder; emboldened in the profession of profound satisfaction as I acknowledge the beauty and miracle of the near end that I love and loves me.

“Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles.”
– Walt Whitman

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