It was a gift of blessing, at just the right time. During finals week in December, I ended up with an unexpected, late-night appendectomy. While I was in the hospital, my colleague Dr. Brugh, brought me Anne Lamott’s new book, Help, Thanks, Wow. It is a quick read, profound in its simplicity, as it draws the reader into each of the three words of its title as language, expressions and embodiments of prayer.
In the past weeks as I have recovered, and celebrated the holidays with family, and then nursed both my mother and daughter who were sick with this winter’s virus, I found myself repeatedly uttering those three words – not simultaneously, but amid the everydayness of sickness and health, greetings and good-byes, celebrations and solitude. Help. Thanks. Wow.
While I certainly commend the book to you for your own reading, I commend even more those three words – help, thanks, wow. As this new semester begins, we all know that there will be times when we each are overwhelmed, weighed down, burdened. Help is a good word to whisper, cry, scream and shout amid such times. It is amazing the relief that comes with simply voicing this big, little word – help!
But as much as we know that there will be challenges, it is equally certain that there will be times of joy and fulfillment, times of blessing both given and received, and times of promise-realized. When such times come your way, may thanks easily flow from your lips and through your actions. How good it is to look in the eyes of another and simply say, “thanks.” How good it is to voice that same word into the quiet of the night or to the vastness of the universe for whatever it is that fills you with gratitude. Thanks!
Finally, it is my hope and prayer that each and everyone of you will find your breath taken away with goodness, at least once this semester -- goodness that cannot help but be given voice through a spontaneously uttered “wow.”
Maybe your “wow” will be life-changing, a watershed experience that you will remember forever, or maybe it will be the wow of a passing moment that takes you beyond yourself and then returns you to the ordinariness of living. Whatever the cause, I hope for you to know “wow” as the semester unfolds.
Help. Thanks. Wow. A terrific book. Read it if you can. Life-empowering words – may they become regular parts of your vocabulary in the days and months ahead.
God Bless Your Semester
Rev. James A. Wetzstein and Rev. Charlene M. Rachuy Cox serve as university pastors at Valpo and take turns writing weekly reflections.