Heidi's denomination (the Episcopal Church) has a Book of Common Prayer that has the prayers written - if not in totality, then at least in majority - for what people speak during the service.
In it is a tradition called Rite I - a worship service written with very dated, but beautiful language. For example, the beginning of one of the stanzas says: "And we most humbly beseech thee, O merciful father, to hear us; and, of thy almighty goodness, vouchsafe to bless and sanctify ..."
We don't talk like that any more. But many Christians around the world still pray that way.
Every once in a while, at special services at Heidi's church, we use Rite I for a worship service. At this year's Ash Wednesday, something stuck out to me. Maybe it's because I'm a computer programmer; maybe it's because I was willing to get lost in thought at just the right moment.
There was a phrase, with a homonym (a different word that sounds the same) -- a phrase with changed meaning and deeper insight into God because of the mistaken identity.
"... rendering unto thee most hearty thanks for the innumerable benefits procured unto us by the same."
"I dare you infinity x infinity + 1". Surely I wasn't the only one who'd put conversations into infinite loops when I was a kid. I would try to think of the most biggest, largest, bigger-est number I could in order to one-up friends. This especially worked well with dares -- since everyone knew that double-dog-dare was so much more of a dare than just a normal one.
So innumerable benefits? It's like the number of stars in the sky. Like the grains of sand. Uncountable. Unknowable. Immensely, exorbitantly many.
Innumerability is pretty nifty -- especially when it's God bestowing benefits on creation.
But I didn't hear in the prayer "innumerable benefits"; I heard "enumerable benefits."
And for a computer programmer, if something is enumerable, it means we're in business and there's a heck of a lot we can do with it! Innumerability may be the red light for going further; enumerability is the green light.
One of the interesting things about enumerables is that, at least in C#, they're collections of things ... but they're collections with some tight restrictions. One of their most basic forms is that of a lightweight version of a collection with some basic functionality. They're not meant to be the Swiss Army Knife of collections. But there are other types of generics that can are built for certain performace and feature needs. Lists, Dictionaries, Queues, Hashtables ... the types of collections are many.
But at their core, when something is enumerable, it means it's a defined, finite, knowablecollection of things.
And when it's enumerable, it gains the benefits: searchability, sortability, comparability, index-ability, neighbor-identification, etc.
Two Sides of the Same Thing
Hearing about the benefits God gives to all of creation -- they're surely innumerable to us; but they're also just as surely enumerable to God.
I'm going to hear that prayer differently from now on. I want some of those same benefits that enumerability brings. I want to be able to search the stars and count them. I want to know my neighbors. I want to be findable and never orphaned. I want to be searchable.
There's a meeting place where enumerable and innumerable touch -- I want to always be moving closer to that place.