Doing theology… second.

Sitting in the passenger seat as we whiz through the streets of Bujumbura, I close my eyes to avoid sight of the crazed and chaotic driving required to cut across town.  Pushing through knotted intersections with cars tangled in multiple directions, accelerating with a wish and a prayer-hoping to take advantage of a hint of an opening in on-coming traffic, weaving on uneven roads to dodge stalled cars, bicycle taxis, slow-moving mamas or a cluster of cows – all part of the daily commute. Closed eyes help me avoid the mayhem.

But I don’t live life that way.  Quite the opposite, I watch everything, eyes darting everywhere. I am on the lookout for beauty, truth, for wisdom.

I live life with great attention to what is swirling around me and then run to the pages of my journal to capture it all in ink.  As I write and reflect I see patterns emerge and connections ignite.  This has been my practice over the years; inhaling life then reflecting as I exhale, inhaling experience then exhaling in a contemplative posture.  In and out, in and out – I have been living life and doing theology.  But I did the later unaware…

This summer I encountered a great description for doing theology – ‘it is a second-hour matter*.’  First comes life with all its buzzing movement – beauty, challenge and plenty of interruptions.  That is the first hour – living. Then theology comes in the second hour, the reflection on life with all of its goodness and mess and accomplishments and troubles.

It makes perfect sense to me – we live life and then unpack it, trying to understand the what and the why.  This process is doing theology!  As we live life, then connect the Biblical text with our personal context (or story) we are engaging in theological work.  This understanding has (a) demystified theology for me, making it more accessible and (b) helped me realize that I have been doing theology all along in the pages of my journals!

So first, live with eyes wide open.  Then second, do theology!

(Now if I could only keep my eyes open as we careen through the city streets of Bujumbura!)

*’Doing Theology with An Eye On Mary’ by Valdir Steuemagel.

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11 thoughts on “Doing theology… second.”

  1. idelette
     ·  Reply

    Congratulations on your beautiful new blog, friend.

    This post is a wonderful first entry! I am grateful I’ll get to encounter more of your second-hour reflections right here … “Then theology comes in the second hour, the reflection on life with all of its goodness and mess and accomplishments and troubles.”

    • kelleynikondeha
       ·  Reply

      Thanks, Idelette! Takes a bit of bravery to publish that first post… but now it is here with the promise of more. Love to know you are standing with me…

      • Daniela
         ·  Reply

        Hey!!! I’m excited you launched you blog, it looks great. Love your first post and can’t wait to read more of you writing! xo

  2. Mona
     ·  Reply


  3. Jeff
     ·  Reply


    What an incredible way to awaken to your theological side. I have been waiting for you to start writing more publicly. You have a gift for reflecting experiences in a way that speaks to all. Keep the eyes open and the pen handy! You have an audience that needs to hear your insights.

  4. Ryan Bell
     ·  Reply

    Congrats on the new blog! I love the inhaling, exhaling metaphor. Sometimes at our church we talk about prayer sending us into the world/life and world/life calling us back to prayer.

  5. Nicole Joshua
     ·  Reply

    Hi Kelley!

    Congratulations on your first blog.

    I really enjoy the way you paint pictures with words, the way you articulate your thoughts, the way you live life and do theology. You are such an inspiration to me. Thank you for your courage in putting yourself out there.

    When I saw your picture, my heart felt sad. I miss you and the ladies of our theological cohort. My heart years to meet with women like that on a more regular basis. OUr time in Bujumbura was such a gift, one I am still unwrapping, often getting entangled in the unwrapping process (pulling off the old story to reveal the new story, but feeling relief that the wrapping has been cleared for now, that I can see the new story, and breathe.

    Your blog post is one of the ways that the wrapping is being moved out of the way so that I can see the gift again.

    I’m looking forward to reading your next post!

    Have a wonderful day.
    Love you Kelley.

  6. Laura Shook
     ·  Reply

    Hi Kelley,
    I am so excited that you have launched a personal blog! I look forward to hearing from your heart and learning from your theology…second!
    Love you!

  7. Jan Brown
     ·  Reply

    Thank you for a peek into your life. I love your metaphors, and look forward to hearing from you often.

  8. kelleynikondeha
     ·  Reply

    Friends, thanks for the kind words and encouragement! Writing in public is a bit daunting, but I am ready to engage in conversations about the things that matter to me, and hopefully matter to us!

  9. Teen
     ·  Reply

    Oh Kels…this is delicious.

    While I LOVE non-fiction as well, I think what I like most is *lived* stories. And there is truly no better way to relate to someone than to sit at their feet and hear their story and indulge yours.

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