Last week, we published our 12th issue of the seasonal-quarterly periodical which is Ruminations.
Recalling its focus (on “Spiritual Formation and the Journey to “True Self’”) brings to mind some words from a meaningful discussion on our vocation (or calling) in Parker Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak:
It is a strange gift, this birthright gift of self. Accepting it turns out to be even more demanding than attempting to become someone else! I have sometimes responded to that demand by ignoring the gift, or hiding it, or fleeing from it, or squandering it–and I think I am not alone. There is a Hasidic tale that reveals, with amazing brevity, both the universal tendency to want to be someone else and the ultimate importance of becoming one’s self: Rabbi Zusya, when he was an old man, said, “In the coming world, they will not ask me: ‘Why were you not Moses?’ They will ask me: ‘Why were you not Zusya?”‘ (p. 10f.)
Or, in my case, “Why have I not been Jim?”
Or in your case, “Why have you not been who and what God has called you—or named you—to be?”
Powerful to consider that when God creates things [cf., Genesis 1]—calling them forth with the call of their name, they have no choice but to spring forth. God’s word does not return void.
There is an exception to this naming and things automatically springing forth, though. Endowed with free will, we humans can choose whether to live out of our “calling”/design… or not. We can choose to live up to the active and living Word of God which called (and calls) us into being… or we can choose to live up to any other number of lesser “words” and voices which call us and shame us and confuse us in this world – call and shame and confuse us about our ultimate purpose and design.
Brings to mind some journaling I was about a few years ago—as I pondered Mary’s words, “let it be with me according to your word”:
There are a lot of “little j” jims even as there are a lot of “little g” gods. There is one “big J” Jim [Reiter] even as there is one “Big G” God. Beyond all lesser voices which seek to name and define me(including my own voice), I am a word from the mouth of God. As God’s word is active and alive, when He says my name, “Jim [Reiter]!”,it shatters all lesser names and namings. As when He says “Light!” and there is light [Gen. 1], even so: when He says “Jim!”, there is Jim[Reiter] in all Jim’s real fullness.
“Here I am, a servant of the Lord. Let it be—let me be—according to your word.”
I am humbled. I am not “jim.”
I am hopeful. I am “Jim”… and will be “Jim.”
I feel loved. Oh, how patient the Divine is!
I have dread. Oh, all that must die and be broken for “Jim” to be reborn and renewed and recollected!
Accepting and embracing and living
into the Word of God spoken over our lives—
the name, the character, the identity
which was declared at our conception:
is this but one more way of,
one more angle for
speaking about the essential facet
of spiritual formation
which is our journey back to our true selves?
O Thou, Who names all things
and thereby calls them into full being,
O Divine, Who even has a Name for me
(above all lesser names and namings):
Assist me, not just in the hearing,
but in the acceptance of Your Naming–
to the honor and glory of Your Holy Name.
Let it be with me according to Your Word!