Tag Archives: Calling

Thoughts for Thursday

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” 
― 
Frederick BuechnerWishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABC

In Death We Are One – 2/4/13

This was the first post I ever did.  I still feel the same way.

I have become increasingly sick of social media.  I spend more time disliking my “friends” because of the things they post than I do actually getting to know them. Why are we all so intent on sensationalizing things?  Why is the Us vs. Them mentality so prevalent in our culture?  Why do we allow ourselves to be manipulated into maintaining this idea that in order to be right someone else must be wrong?

I am one of those rare people that researches the validity of things other people post.  So when I heard about former NYC Mayor Ed Koch being buried at Trinity Wall Street, I did my research. Koch has said that his Jewish faith is very important to him, so I wondered why he would want to be buried at an Episcopal Church.  The answer has more to do with staying in Manhattan than anything else, but I read something that current Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at his funeral that really got me thinking.  Bloomberg said, “Just think about it: a Polish Jew in an Episcopal graveyard in a largely Dominican neighborhood. What could be more New York — or even more Ed Koch?” I will add what could be more like heaven?

This idea got me thinking about what cemeteries can teach the living.  The notion of people from all walks of life and religious backgrounds being placed, purposefully, for their bodies to spend eternity together is an amazing thing and what I know heaven will look like.  This seems to be the exact opposite notion of what I get from social media. The heaven I imagine when I read my news feed on Facebook will be angry, frustrated, segregated, and lonely.  That heaven reminds me that there is not another person on the planet that agrees with me on everything.  That should be something to celebrate, but time after time it makes me scared and sad.

Fear is one of the leading causes of isolation and social isolation can be harmful to our overall health.  The culture of fear is becoming more powerful and our ability as Christians to fight that culture is becoming more difficult.  We are called in Romans 12:2 “to be not conformed of this world” and that is a tough calling to follow.  How do we as Christians turn the tide on this culture of fear?   How do we find ways to be in the world but not of it?  How do we influence those around us to look for commonalities in each other?

My answer – I will intentionally decide to spend eternity with people from all walks of life and religious backgrounds.  I will force myself into difficult and uncomfortable relationships with people whose ideals scare me.  I will seek out the commonalities in people instead of isolating myself from them. I am determined to make my life look more like a cemetery, and that is a really weird thing to say 🙂

Leave me a note and let me know what you will do to answer that call.

-Lauren Caldwell

Success

success

 

Success is hardly the neutral definition provided in the dictionary, especially in these United States. Success is loaded with all kinds of connotations of material gain or notoriety, impact or well roundedness, but the most invisible and perhaps most powerful connotation of success is failure. If we do not succeed we fail. Check out this amazing interview by Alain de Botton about how the American desire to crown a winner has created an equally powerful need to punish a loser.

Our faith of course calls us to turn all of this on its head, to crown the loser and send the winner to the back of the line. Or does it? In Jesus’ time were we really talking about winners and losers or were we talking about the fortunate and the unfortunate, those who had (through no fault of their own) and those who did not. This is a very different thing. Perhaps Jesus wasn’t talking about redistribution or even equal distribution, but about lack of ownership altogether of wealth and power and relationships and hope. Only then do you really see the end of the vicious cycle of winners and losers.

As the year begins to wind down and you are tempted to give thanks for your successes and lament your failures, I hope you’ll take some time to reframe, to reconsider, and to redefine the ideas you have about what success means and whether you can ever really have or want it. What else does God call us to value to give meaning to our lives? What does God value?

Invisible

“What am I doing with my life?”

I ask this question in jest whenever I see someone accomplish what I could only hope to (like making this amazing video). But really, it is the ever present question, the one that rattles around in my chest and head every time I stop long enough to breathe and look around. That’s part of the unsettled nature of this moment in life, I guess. Or maybe it is just part of life in general.

I have this image in my head that discernment  is a task I could accomplish in an afternoon if I really just committed the time and engaged in some sort of linear process. I would begin by looking at my life, my skills, my passions, then I would ask myself a series of  questions and suddenly my vocation would emerge, clear as day.

But really discernment, in my experience, has been a lot more like this video.

The me I want to be, the me God is calling me to be is like an invisible being that I’m constantly chasing through the woods. I wait for a shadow or a change in the way the dust is blowing and then I have an instant to throw color where I think he is in hopes of catching a glimpse of how he moves, what he looks like, where he’s going. It’s beautiful and painstaking and frustrating as hell.

But every time I encounter him I come one step closer to being him.

Being in grad school I have the luxury of spending all my time chasing this image of who I want to be. But just like in my former working world, it is so easy to lose focus. It is so easy to get caught up in someone else’s idea of what the process should be, to just create another to do list, when all I really want and need is to pursue the image of my own wonderfully created soul.

And when I pursue that, when I can emphasize my being over my doing and seek ardently for it in all its unknowableness, I know I’ll begin both being and doing what God has called me to do and be.

In Death We Are One

I have become increasingly sick of social media.  I spend more time disliking my “friends” because of the things they post than I do actually getting to know them. Why are we all so intent on sensationalizing things?  Why is the Us vs. Them mentality so prevalent in our culture?  Why do we allow ourselves to be manipulated into maintaining this idea that in order to be right someone else must be wrong?

I am one of those rare people that researches the validity of things other people post.  So when I heard about former NYC Mayor Ed Koch being buried at Trinity Wall Street, I did my research. Koch has said that his Jewish faith is very important to him, so I wondered why he would want to be buried at an Episcopal Church.  The answer has more to do with staying in Manhattan than anything else, but I read something that current Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at his funeral that really got me thinking.  Bloomberg said, “Just think about it: a Polish Jew in an Episcopal graveyard in a largely Dominican neighborhood. What could be more New York — or even more Ed Koch?” I will add what could be more like heaven?

This idea got me thinking about what cemeteries can teach the living.  The notion of people from all walks of life and religious backgrounds being placed, purposefully, for their bodies to spend eternity together is an amazing thing and what I know heaven will look like.  This seems to be the exact opposite notion of what I get from social media. The heaven I imagine when I read my news feed on Facebook will be angry, frustrated, segregated, and lonely.  That heaven reminds me that there is not another person on the planet that agrees with me on everything.  That should be something to celebrate, but time after time it makes me scared and sad.

Fear is one of the leading causes of isolation and social isolation can be harmful to our overall health.  The culture of fear is becoming more powerful and our ability as Christians to fight that culture is becoming more difficult.  We are called in Romans 12:2 “to be not conformed of this world” and that is a tough calling to follow.  How do we as Christians turn the tide on this culture of fear?   How do we find ways to be in the world but not of it?  How do we influence those around us to look for commonalities in each other?

My answer – I will intentionally decide to spend eternity with people from all walks of life and religious backgrounds.  I will force myself into difficult and uncomfortable relationships with people whose ideals scare me.  I will seek out the commonalities in people instead of isolating myself from them. I am determined to make my life look more like a cemetery, and that is a really weird thing to say 🙂

Leave me a note and let me know what you will do to answer that call.

-Lauren Caldwell