“The Theology of Life:” Kooistra on What Matters to Him

This past Wednesday, November 16 at 7:00 PM, The Religious Life Council (RLC) hosted English Teacher Pieter “Pier” Kooistra H’14 P’20 for this term’s first installment of “What Matters to Me and Why,” a series of lectures where staff and faculty can speak about what is important to them.

This past Wednesday, November 16 at 7:00 PM, The Religious Life Council (RLC) hosted English Teacher Pieter “Pier” Kooistra H’14 P’20 for this term’s first installment of “What Matters to Me and Why,” a series of lectures where staff and faculty can speak about what is important to them.

Kooistra opened the night by acknowledging the importance of religion’s impact on his life. Referring to the Scriptures, he stated that life itself was a “miracle…a whole crazy constellation of miracles, a galaxy of miracles…We can eat, see and hear and feel, think, learn, love—we have been given so much more than we can even recognize...We need to do right by the innumerable miracles we’ve been given, including one another, both here and beyond, including those we don’t know.”

Next, Kooistra explained the method behind his theology. He believes that we need to “look at [humans] at [their] best [because] wherever there is compassion and love, God is there.”

Bringing the topic closer to home, he stated, “Lawrenceville is my parish, the place where I get to practice being faithful to what matters most. Lawrenceville is the place I get to practice my religion on a daily basis.” He explained that activities like advising, coaching, serving as a colleague, preparing for class, and teaching classes all serve as activities where he can continue to practice his outlook on life. In particular, Kooistra believes that the “rich discussions” around the Harkness table and the “observations, ideas, questions, doubts, [and] frustrations” surrounding these conversations serve as opportunities to “change minds.”

According to Kooistra, “gratitude acts as the tremendously powerful fuel behind [every one of his contacts] with his colleagues and students, pushing [him] to get better at being appropriately prepared to engage the far wider world beyond this place.”

Reflecting on the importance of gratitude, he said, “I find that I can keep cranking away what I’m doing here, soaking up almost every glorious second, so it matters to be conscious of one’s bond to others. It matters to experience that bond with gratitude.”

Next, Kooistra spoke on the value of dedication in his life, which he defined as the ability “to give oneself over to something, heart, and soul. For him, dedication plays a large role in managing his work-life balance. “It matters a great deal to care for oneself, to be wary of the potential for burnout and not just to work, but to play,” he added.

However, for Kooistra, “Work isn’t just a job [and] it mustn’t be allowed to become drudgery. It’s a mission, a quest, and it’s often best sustained when one lets it be purposeful and playful simultaneously.”

“I can’t plan lessons or read essays or communicate with advisees and colleagues all day and all night. So there’s got to be time for recreation. So I ride my bike, riding as fast as I can, listening to crazy loud music; I hang out with friends, reading body stories and silly jokes. I cherish time with my family,” he noted.

Reflecting on everything that makes his life fulfilling and meaningful, Kooistra concluded, “All of this helps to sustain me, as does the relationship I have with every single one of you, especially those whom I know best.”

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