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 on her dissertation. Journeying to this point has been exhausting, but meaningful. Yet, as I consider the future and try to navigate work and family, I have a dull nagging feeling within me, like a still small voice trying to speak or the distracting feeling of cool drips of water landing on the back of my neck.
I think living a whole spiritual life means we respond to the s/Spirit within us that yearns to give birth to something. I call it “s/Spirit” because it is a fountain of life-giving and life-bearing energy in which God’s Life and Creativity entwine indistinguishably with our own lives and creativity. There is a summons to live a life of freedom and creativity. That s/Spirit is that creative energy or vision, impulsive inspiration, and quietude of potential that haunts our working mind and resting moments.
However, I’m not being prescriptive. We’ve heard enough from the spiritual marketplace and self-help culture about how much we need to express ourselves freely, connect with our inner-child, play and live creatively. We’re too busy, paying attention to the wrong things. Blah, blah, blah…..
OK. Fine. Maybe.
Spirituality becomes another thing to do. <sigh>
And, 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 draw on and 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 mean that my work at Graceland isn’t 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 listen to that small voice and pay attention to that refreshing drip pool on me. To disregard this nagging anxiously 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.