In Gerald Morris’s The Lioness and the Knight, he introduces the minor character Godwulf. This peasant was prone to excess, but after a near death experience, ends up living as a hermit.
Though usually hermits are known for living alone, Godwulf’s hermitage soon becomes a gathering place. He finds that he is never without copious amounts of beer, food, or companionship. And he enjoys every moment of his newfound life, saying in his jovial voice, “God provides like the merry dickens! I may just decide to stay a hermit!”
And he does become a hermit, and continues to enjoy life each day, month after month.
One character comments to a friend, “you’ve never seen a man who was more thankful for what he has than our friend there.”
But the friend thinks there’s nothing special about that. After all, why shouldn’t Godwulf be thankful? He has everything he could want!
“But surely you’ve noticed that it hardly ever works that way. Those who have the most are nearly always the least grateful for what they have. Godwulf there, he spends his entire day giving thanks to God and sharing what he has with everyone who passes by. The local farmers and villagers are beginning to come to him for spiritual advice. . . . He says, ‘Enjoy your food, enjoy your work, give thanks to God.’ Then he usually hands them a pint of ale.”
I think what is hitting me so strongly about this quote is that Godwulf focuses entirely on the high points. At one point, he’s at a ticklish part of brewing some beer, and he remains jolly and enthusiastic. He’s happy in the process, and excited for the outcome.
He has an expansive soul.
If I think about my own life, I have a different focus. When I make food, I focus on the making, not so much a celebration of the eating, let alone gratefulness for having food to eat.
If I drink home-brewed kombucha (not being much a fan of ale), I think about how maybe it’s still a bit too sweet, or a bit too flat, or a bit too vinegary. Rather than Godwulf’s general thankfulness for someone’s creativity to come up with a naturally carbonated, healthy, home-brewed beverage, I tend more towards critical dismissal.
And when we do vision therapy and reading practice, I don’t usually think of it as a privilege to spend the time with my son. Rather, I tend to approach these as tasks to do. I’m thinking about the time passing, rather than enjoying the forced companionship.
My focus is not on the gifts — the food, the drink, the work, the relationship — but on the tasks.
So as I move forward, my desire is to become more like the expansive souled Godwulf, who savors his minutes with deep satisfaction.
It’s a good reminder to me.
And I think I’ll stop procrastinating and go do reading and vision therapy with my son.