Wednesday, May 21, 2014

from Grenfell, As Theologian--and More

By Jesse Halsey

He came in, leaving his snow shoes by the door, sat down by our smoking peat fire, slipped off a sealskin boot and began to manipulate its stiffness over a can that stood in the corner just the way the natives do all down the Shore; then blurted out, “Parson, is there any such entity as the Grace of God?”

This was my first contact with Grenfell, as Theologian. I had seen the surgeon operating in his new hospital; had “poured the ether” for him and once held a leg five minutes after he had amputated it, and at length heard him say:  “You can lay it down now, I’m through with it.” I’d seen him, week on end, fill the largest building on the college campus, where ordinarily “daily prayers” were sparsely attended; listened to his tales of travel with his dogs on the ice and with his hospital steamer through the ice; seen him painlessly extract money in large sums from a Boston audience, but here was a new Grenfell—the Theologian.

“Is there any such ‘entity’ as the Grace of God?” What did he mean exactly? I tried to say that grace was a quality in God, an attribute of his character; that he was gracious and merciful in his very nature and being. No, he thought “grace” must be more than just a quality, it must be an “entity.” Definition of entity? He didn’t exactly know, but a “glorious something”—and there we left it.

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