I never realized how big the difference was between the words “of” and “from” until I went to Italy. I have never studied much English grammar. Most of what I know, grammar wise, has come from observation in reading, with a little help from some studies in Greek. So I never gave the difference between “of” and “from” much thought.
But the Italians do. It was on every single test. Where I would say, “I am from Pittsburgh,” the Italians would say, “I am of Pittsburgh.” Because “from” implies a leaving of a place with no real relationship, whereas “of” implies belonging. This is the place where I was born. This is the place where I belong. This is the place I am of. This is not to say that where you are born is where you will always belong.
My soul and my body stretch with the places I have been. I have felt a belonging, a being of, in some places with which I have not had much connection before besides family heritage. I can yearn for a place, wanting to go “back”, and feeling that I am going to a place of origin, returning. But it is not only places that demand our sense of belonging, our being of. It is people too. My children will be of me as I am of my mother; a wife and husband become as much “of” each other as if they had been biologically related, but this being “of” is a much deeper and sacred union. I am of the earth, and also, I am of God.
Being of God, his Spirit lives in me. And so, I am filled. I am blessed. And when I brood in my mind over the things I desire, the places I want to go, the person I wish to be, the life I do not have that I want to have, a small voice in the back of my head says: “Isn’t He enough?”
I counter, I argue, I try to find a way around it. But I am of God and his Spirit is in me; therefore, I cannot keep on avoiding the truth that is also inside of me. He is enough. And if I immerse myself in him, if I am constantly plunging into his grace and offering myself to him as a vessel for him to use, that is enough. It is not that I cannot have desire to pursue, to carry out. But if I am so rooted in Christ, he will open up the door for me. And being in him, and him being in me, if I have an open mind, I can see ways that I didn’t think existed, or dreams that I never thought of dreaming.
I tend to separate the spiritual from the physical. My mistake is that I do not see Christ everywhere. If I try very hard I can, but it doesn’t come without trying. I don’t look at people and see Christ. I don’t look at the world and immediately think of God. I don’t live slowly enough to grasp the full meaning of the moment, to look at that person and think: “He is made in the image of God.” I know though, with the grace that is of and flows from God, that it doesn’t have to be this way. Again, if I am so immersed in him, then I cannot fail to see him everywhere. I want to see him everywhere. I want to be reminded of him in every face I see, in the sun and the moon and the unblinded stars at night, and in the fresh wind that smells wet and fragrant like the earth.
“To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate the beautiful thing: that is enough for one man’s life.” (T.S. Eliot) Everything I have is enough. Or if I do not have it, it is within my grasp, through him who gives me strength. Because there is a difference between getting enough and having enough. I have everything I need. To do useful things, to be of service, to think about the beautiful things, to speak truth—all this is within me. I have the ability to live the Christian life, and I can be fully satisfied, fully filled and even overflowing.
“My God, a moment of bliss. Why, isn’t that enough for a whole lifetime?” (Fydor Dostoevsky) Neither do I need to be searching for happiness, or bliss. One moment can last forever. He is in me, and that can and will be my constant joy. I feel it when I think on him, that happiness, or joy, is not a feeling, it’s a state of being, it’s like a place that we enter into by decision almost, like love. And that place that we enter into is Christ.