I spent some time this weekend at a dance workshop with commitment… that part of maturity that really means it’s time to put away the childhood of my life. Not leaving behind the joyful curiosity, but leaving behind the immature self (small ‘s’) that needs the world to be a certain way. Even still, there is a sense of wistful sadness to this process. Moments in movies spring to mind… Harriet the Spy, Finding Neverland… the moments at which a bridge is crossed by the individual and the soul is called forth by its greater calling and glimpses of real truth emerge. This happens to many as they approach adulthood, to some during their adulthood and still to others… perhaps not on this journey. Those, I suppose, could be called lost souls. I was one.
I realize now the deep importance of having a community, a family, in which it’s ok, it’s safe, for that soul to come forth. I’ve been reading Parker Palmer’s Hidden Wholeness. He describes a Quaker tradition called Circles of Trust in which the people in the circle are merely there to ask questions that allow the sojourner’s soul to come forth… sometimes in times of trial and others simply because it’s time.
I’m at this point in my life where I’ve been birthed by my community. I have been given the unconditional love to open my heart and have been asked the soft questions that allowed my soul to come forth and claim her purpose. I wonder how I got so lucky. How did I find my way to a community (several, actually) and a practice (dancing) both of which hold me in such a way as to allow something life-giving to emerge? I’ve heard the phrase, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”
And I wonder what happened to the boy on the campus of VA Tech when the fabric of the universe ripped wide open. I wonder who could have stepped in that might have prevented the rip. I wonder how all the preventative measures that were taken by his teachers and counselors failed. I wonder why did this boy have to experience so much pain that all he could give to this world was more pain. I wonder what choices he made and where his mind went to. And there, but for the grace of God, go I.
Maybe I wouldn’t have shot 32 people, or car-bombed a cafe, or instructed my soldiers to commit genocide…
But I might have raised a child in an atmosphere of complete indifference in a painful marriage or decided to stop going to church instead of speaking to Father Bill when I “didn’t like” the words of the Nicene Creed. And… I might have been given the chance to save a life by reaching out to someone who was struggling, but then decide not to because I didn’t think he would want to talk with me. And there, but for the grace of God, go I? No… and there I am.
So, this weekend, as I danced with the word commitment, I was remembering my time in front of the cross on Good Friday this year when I understood that Christ’s example here was to give up on absolutely everything he took himself to be… even his human form… so that his purpose could be realized. And in my dance I gave myself up, gave myself over… on the cross, committed to become the Episcopal priest. ahhhhhhh… yes! My greater calling!
And then another dancer said, “even if the purpose of my entire life is to be here dancing with this person right now, that’s enough.”
Wow. So much for my grandiosity.
So, I get it. I get commitment now. I’m still going to go to seminary to become an Episcopal priest… but my real purpose?
To meet this moment… now… with my whole self. To be as fully embodied in every moment as I can. To move in this world as though everything I do is my purpose. To meet God wherever he/she decides to show up… and pray for grace when I can’t.
And here, I quote my favorite childhood story…
“The time has come,” the walrus said, “to talk of many things.
Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings.
And why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings.”
From the Walrus and the Carpenter – Lewis Carroll