Learning from great theologians and my mother


Somewhere in the midst of pursuing a master’s degree in theology, of immersing myself in the likes of Karl Rahner (poetic, to me) and Hans Urs Von Balthasar (barely comprehensible), I find myself sitting on my mother’s fat off-white love seat in her tiny living room.

From the kitchen, where she is readying dinner for family, she tells me she couldn’t find the rice dish she wanted at first, but when she poked around in her packed freezer she came up with a bag of rice and vegetables.

Her back to me, I watch as she shoots her arm in the air. “He takes care of me.”

Karl, Hans, now that is faith.

Oh, it’s not sophisticated or elegant or worldly or intellectual. I am certainly not going to read about the likes of it in the Introduction to Theology class that is tapping into my spare time and waning energy this semester.

But it certainly is beautiful, to think — to believe — God cares about what’s going on your dinner plate.

I am a reader. I am curious. I like to learn. But I also see God in the simple things. A dog with his head craning out a car window. An unexpected nicety from an acquaintance. The waves lapping the shoreline in Ocean City. A bag of rice and vegetables.

I’m enjoying formally learning about our church, theology, God and more. It’s amazing to see what minds much greater than mine have to say, what souls much more open have to offer. It really is a gift to have this experience, to be in my fifth of 10 classes.

But I’m equally learning from my mother, other loved ones and, yes, even people who I find not-so-nice.

Sometimes, I have to admit, faith is enriched by great theologians and sometimes by little old ladies walking toward their stoves.

Patricia Quigley is a freelance writer and member of Incarnation Parish, Mantua.