Monday, June 22, 2015

We Are Called Unto Life

I have been praying with the Reform Jewish Prayer Book Mishkan T'filah and the opening lines of
the weekday evening prayer begin with "We are called unto life, destiny uncertain" (p. 2, The Journal Edition). While praying this prayer it finally clicked, it finally hit me, I am called unto LIFE not called unto work or a job. While I have wrestled over and over again with the understanding of vocation and what work I am called to do all the while knowing that vocation was bigger than just a job. Yet it was not until I was praying with this prayer and this line that it finally clicked, somehow I just finally got it.

I also have to say that this year has stretched and transformed me in ways that will take a long time to work through and fully understand. This year I have found myself working at jobs I never imagined. I worked as a cashier at Food Lion and understood just how much of my life I spend worrying about what other people think and learning to understand first hand the lies we are told about those who work service jobs. I had just an inkling of what a makerspace is and does and this year I have had the opportunity to assist in getting one off the ground. I will have the opportunity to continue to do some work for OBXDIY while in Richmond and continue to work with Eric Holsinger who has believed in me and seen things in me I did not see in myself. All of this made me realize what life I really want, not what career I want but what life I want.

I want a career that will use my amazing skills and experience in creating and managing programs. I love public speaking and getting out in a community to reach people whether that is at OBX Pride as the Minister of a UU congregation, Master Gardner event talking to vendors about how OBXDIY Makerspace could assist them or talking to people as I ring up and bag their groceries. Preaching twice a month has been amazing and I love getting in front of people and talking, presenting or teaching. I taught a social media class for small business and it was so much fun and people got help with their social media work.  I love social media and its power to connect people.  I also love writing and this blog is a testament to that. I love being involved in learning in multiple forms and I understand all kinds of teaching environments whether universities or congregations or organizations that offer specific learning opportunities inside or outside its walls. These skills could be used in any number of settings, in any number of for-profit and non-profit organizations. I finally realized that it was my skills I want to use and not so much a particular position or environment.

I realize that I want more from life then just what I do to earn a paycheck. We are moving to Richmond, VA because it is the place we want to live out the rest of our lives. We love Richmond. It has rich history, wonderful art, a great science museum, amazing food, a growing tech and entrepreneurial community (there is a makerspace there!). It is also the capital of Virginia with a few progressive political organizations that we can participate in. There is a retreat center that I love called Richmond Hill. Our family has decided that a vibrant southern city is where we want to be. Mollie loves the city especially Carytown and Donna has connections and a long history with Richmond. It has a strong and growing economy and it is an affordable city to live in. Richmond is a diverse city including religious diversity and I look forward to exploring it. It was also voted happiest city. What's not to love?!

After finding a job and housing the next thing I want to do is start a Georgetown alumni club in Richmond. As of right now there is no GU alumni club there and after hemming and hawing about not wanting to start one on my own during my years in Williamsburg I am ready to take on the challenge of getting the ball rolling. I welcome the challenge and I look forward to connecting to fellow Hoyas and building a strong network and community of GU alum.

The next thing I want to do is join a book club.  All these years in religious leadership in small towns I never felt like I could just do something as simple as join a book group.  I love to read and I want to be pushed to read more. I want to connect with others and discuss books.

Finally I want to be at least a part time entrepreneur, turning Scattered Revelations into a business that includes spiritual coaching, consulting, teaching, preaching, and life event officiating.  I want to keep my foot in this world on my terms without requiring it to be my whole means of support.

Most of all I want a full and complete life.  Work that I enjoy and that allows me to support my family.  I want my family to live into financial stability and security. I want my daughter to explore her passions and my wife to get the health care she needs so she can get well enough to pursue her own dreams.  I want a life filled with a diversity of friends and community.

What I have learned is that I want a life, a full life, a complete life.  I want it filled with people and community.  I feel like over time I made myself smaller, shrank my world down and now I want to burst forth and explore the world.  I think this year of struggle and tears helped me to see what the holy has been trying to say all along.  One of my favorite quotes about vocation is from Herbert Alphonso, SJ and he writes ""Vocation does not come from willfulness. It comes from listening. I must listen to my life and try to understand what it is truly about---quite apart from what I would like it to be about---or my life will never represent anything real in the world, no matter how earnest my intentions.... Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue. It means a calling that I hear."  It is about my whole life, not my job, but my life.

I finally get it and I am excited about the next chapter. Yes there is lots of uncertainty and we are making this move with faith and prayer.  I still need  two essential things - a job and a place to live. Yet I have faith because we have come this far, we will not give up.  While I had a job when I first came here, it was only half time and we did not initially have a place to live and yet somehow we managed to finally find a place of our own, we pieced our financial life together with the help of friends and strangers alike and we made it. We made it through this time.  I have come out the other side stronger and more resilient. This time has made possible what comes next.

So we are all called unto life, destiny uncertain - 

how will you answer?


We Are Called unto life, destiny uncertain.
Yet we offer thanks for what we know,
for health and healing, for labor and repose,
for renewal of beauty in earth and sky,
for that blend of human-holy, which inspires compassion,
and for hope: eternal, promising light.

For life, for health, for hope,
for beautiful, bountiful blessing,
all praise to the Source of Being.

Baruch atah, Adonai,
M'kor nefesh kol chai.
          (Ar'Vit L'Chol - Weekday evening, Mishkan T'filah: The Journal Edition, A Reform Siddur, CCAR, p. 2)