The eternal is acquired in one way, and it is different from everything else precisely because it can be acquired only in one single way. It is the difficult way that Christ indicated by the words: “Small is the gate and narrow the way, that leads to life, and few are they that find it.” The comfortable—precisely the thing in which our age excels—absolutely cannot be applied with respect to an eternal blessedness. When, for example, the thing you are required to do is to walk, it is no use to make the most astonishing inventions in the way of the easiest carriages and to want to transport yourself in these when the task prescribed to you is walking. And if the eternal is the way in which it is acquired, it doesn’t do any good to want to alter this way, however admirably, in the direction of comfort. The eternal is acquired only in the difficult way.Søren Kierkegaard, in Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard
Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855) was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic, and religious author who is widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher.
Chula in a rare moment of rest.
This reflection came to me this morning via the publication, Give Us This Day, a book of daily scripture readings and reflections. What struck me the most about this is the imagery Kierkegaard uses for helping us understand how we are called to discomfort as followers of Christ. “…when the task prescribed to you is walking,” he writes, don’t spend your time inventing an easier mode of transportation. I wonder about this today because my major task of these days is walking our easily distracted puppy.
When I walk this puppy, I want to speed along, to exercise, get my steps in! When the puppy walks, she is in major exploratory mode. She tells me over and over with her meanderings and stops to sniff at this and that, that there is so much to the world around me that I am not noticing.
There are so many dogs! She makes me stop and talk to their owners–dog people are overwhelming good people, at least when they are with their dogs.
Would you look at this flower! She shows me the there new flora and fauna around here than what we had in Seattle.
Can you take it easy and pay attention? She reminds me that sometimes you just need to stop in the middle of the sidewalk, bridge, road, park–really just about anywhere, and take it all in.
I am humbled and grateful to think about how God put this special softness in our hearts for our pets and how much more they do for us than we ever do for them.
I know there is so much more to Kierdegaard’s message than what I pull out this morning but I think that all I am required to do right now is walk and stop and pay attention.