Life in the Whirlwind

In my last post, which was three months ago (to my shame) I talked about taking a week to seek renewal and guidance in recovering from a difficult 2011. I made a promise that I didn’t keep, committing to report in on my progress. I’m here today to make an attempt to explain myself and my absence.

One of my main concerns as I went into that week was my work situation. When I was a young woman, feverish with passion and vision and change-the-world dreams, I swore I would never allow myself to stay in a job that wasn’t fulfilling and meaningful. Truth be told, I’m not sure even working for the UN or Green Peace or Mother Theresa would have quite measured up to my expectations. However as time and disillusionment and broken dreams began to litter my way, and I eventually veered off the straight and narrow. For over a decade, most of my adult life, I worked a job that was a terrible fit. I did my best to see purpose in my time there, working as unto the Lord and focusing on character building perseverance and so on. Once in a while I would feel a surge of focus and for that moment I could find meaning in the drudgery.  I felt fragmented, drained, adrift.

All the while that idealistic girl still dreamed somewhere deep inside me. Her constant whispering would drive me to festivals and writing, ministry and volunteering. Eventually fatigue would set in, and I would resort to consuming others’ creative works rather than producing my own. I did my best to quiet her with realistic practicality. I would numb her with guilty pleasures and entertainment. I tried to distract her with visions of heaven. She was never convinced that she had to wait to be fulfilled, and she refused to be silenced.

Halfway through my week of retreat, a friend called. With a job offer. A job offer that would not only meet my needs, but would tap into some of my strengths and passions. The job meant a move, a new schedule, a new dress code. Small things that led to a subtle, powerful shift as I felt myself coming back together into a whole person.

This has in turn opened space up in my soul for the girl in the room to amplify her cry for meaningful engagement with the world around her. I’ve been hearing conversations about calling and vocation, and remembering the wisdom of a mentor who told me once that calling never changes but a calling’s vehicle will change often in a lifetime. Now that my daily work taps into the fringes of what I understand my calling to be, I’m scanning the horizon for other vehicles nearby. For too long I’ve confined expressions of calling to work and church. Yet if living out my vocation means living as the person I was created to be, thinning the veil between the woman I am and the woman God created in His image before baggage and sin and wounds tarnished the reflection, then the truth is that vocation has rarely been found in either of those places. I feel the veil at its thinnest when I’m sitting across the table from a hurting human being, hearing words not my own spill out of my mouth and enter another’s wounds like a balm. When I read a poignant thought, open my journal and pour out the flow of thought and question that are tapped. When I look back at those pages and see the words of God written in my own hand. When I sit in a room being filled with music some other soul is emptying into the world, offering a moment of wonder. When I engage in passionate conversations. When I play board games in a train caboose converted to cabin in the woods. When I see a film and have someone to talk about it with after. When I feed people.

So I’m looking for ways to thin the veil. Taking guitar lessons. Connecting with people who shouldn’t be strangers. Planning get-togethers. Chasing down concerts and festivals. I hope to be more faithful in sharing the journey into this new phase.

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