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Something to think and pray about this week

Some years, during Advent, the concreteness of the nativity story—how normal, how tangible it is—draws me in. The awkward unease of late pregnancy. The human need for shelter and rest. Straw, wood, pieces of cloth. The scent of barn animals. A newborn baby’s cry.

But this year, it’s the swirl of mystery that hovers above and through the narrative that most captures my imagination. In an Advent homily, my priest quoted a theologian who said that thinking about God is like trying to draw a picture of a bird in flight.

“You end up with details of its wings caught in a certain position, feathers, eyes, claws frozen in place for careful scrutiny,” he explained. “Or you end up with a blur that loses all detail, but captures speed and movement.”

We’re all theologians, he said, and we all envision various concepts of God in detail and others in motion. Do we choose one picture over another, or somehow hold both in tension?

I realize sometimes the “bird” I picture when I think of God is a faraway dot, flying high in the sky. At other times, it’s just outside my window, allowing me to appreciate the details of its feathers and the angles of its tiny beak before it flies away.

- Excerpted from Wholehearted Living by Jennifer Grant