Since finishing my formal studies in 2010, I’ve been on a journey. First, I moved from Chicago to Graceland University, Lamoni, IA, to be the Director of Religious Life and campus minister in 2011. I’ve spent the last three years settling into this position: learning Graceland’s current institutional culture, getting to know the students who come to GU, developing the courses I’m teaching, and finding my alchemical vision for Christ’s mission and Community of Christ’s mission on campus. These responsibilities, and other denominational activities, have thoroughly absorbed the last three years of my life.
Beginning my fourth year, I can’t say “I’ve arrived.” I’m still navigating these areas and learning things. But, I’ve come to a place where I have my bearings and some sense of direction. I’ve identified areas that I think need long-term attention and collaboration. I better know my circle of influence verses my circle of control. I find meaning in daily life among students and colleagues at Graceland. I also have more opportunities to be present with Margo and my two daughters at home. Katy, my oldest, is a teenager this year. She’ll be a freshmen in high school a year from now. Kenzlee, my younger daughter, began middle-school this year. Both are in sports and playing two instruments. My best friend and wife, Margo, loves her faculty position in the Gleazer School of Education at Graceland, and has been working on an Ed.D. year-round for three years from Drake University. Currently, she is writing her dissertation. Journeying to this point has been exhausting, but meaningful. As I consider the future and try to navigate work and family, I still have a dull nagging feeling within me. It’s like the murmuring of a still small voice trying to speak, or the distracting feeling of drips of water landing on the back of my neck.
I believe that living a whole spiritual life means responding to the s/Spirit within us that yearns to give birth to something. I call it “s/Spirit” because this fountain of life-giving and life-bearing energy is God’s Life and Creativity entwined indistinguishably with our own. It is a summons to live a life of freedom and creativity. That s/Spirit within us is the creative energy or vision, impulse of inspiration, and quietude of potential that haunts our working mind and resting moments. Paying attention to that s/Spirit at work within us leads us to what our spirituality is about.
I don’t point to that s/Spirit, however, to be prescriptive. This isn’t about giving advice. You and I have heard enough from the spiritual marketplace and its self-help culture. We know how much it tells us that we need to express ourselves freely. We must connect with our inner-child, play and live creatively. We’re too busy, paying attention to the wrong things. The voices go on: blah, blah, blah…..
OK. Fine. Maybe.
But, spirituality is not just another thing to do. <sigh>
When I stop and pay attention to that “dull nagging” desire in me, I don’t miss the obvious. I don’t miss the fact that my family and daughters are, quite literally, part of this “birthing” in my life. They are part of my life’s work. They call forth my disciplined and creative energies. Miraculously, Katy and Kenzlee are forming into generous, crazy, obstinate, and surprising young persons right before me every day.
I also don’t overlook that my work at Graceland is creative. It, too, takes creative energies and inspiration. It, too, gives life. But, apparently, there is something more or missing.
The dull nagging or spiritual drip that’s thudding on my neck as I hunch over focused on “today’s tasks” keeps coming. It doesn’t frustrate me or give me angst. I think I just need
to try to listen to that small voice, or pay attention to that refreshing drip pooling on me. The distraction could be life-giving. To disregard this nagging in the name of busyness, or to appease some insatiable need for productivity, only keeps my life locked in a cycle of deadlines and want for mindless entertainment. So draining. Still, “deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls,” Psalm 42: 7 says, “all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.” Maybe that’s what I’m yearning for.