I am not a systematic theologian. And yet… though I have tried mightily over the years, a lifetime of reading, writing, studying, and thinking about God, art, and the world have, alas, taken their inevitable toll. I have to confess that I have become that most ephemeral of all God’s creatures: an Occasional Theologian.
Theology students dream of being Systematic Theologians. Of being great minds creating great orderly systems that eventually wrap-up all things theological with a neat bow.
The Occasional Theologian dreams no such lofty dream. To occasionally know and express one true and certain thing in “this marred and clumsy world” is his or her dream alone. For the Occasional Theologian knows more moments of ignorance than of perfect sight, has stood dumb in the face of Mystery much more often than un-blinkered with the clarity of Light. For the Occasional Theologian (who, if truth be told, is but one form of Christian Mystic), Mystery is the thing.
Frost, after visiting Ireland, is reported to once have said something like: “No wonder Yeats believes in fairies.” Ireland is that kind of place. It is a place where the boundary between this world and others seems especially thin. It is a place to create and sustain saints and mystics and poets. For the Occasional Theologian, For this Occasional Theologian and poet, Ireland is also a place to “rediscover” and “recover” one’s essential self.