Thursday, May 13, 2010

Plan A and Plan B and a Whole Lot of Drama

The plan (A) once was to find work in an area that I found stimulating, meaningful and rewarding. The plan (B) is becoming about how I can responsibly support my family while remaining faithful to our beliefs and sense of calling. I see these as drastically different plans.

Plan A sought to accommodate to the requirements of particular institutions so that I could fit within them. This has been true about my work in the church. Attaining the relevant education was not a serious issue. I pursued this primarily in a selfish manner (understood in the most faithful way). I even got a chance to do a little teaching. This was also a great experience. By and large I did not feel a great deal of pressure placed on me to mould and be moulded in a particular manner (though all my teaching was as an adjunct or assistant). I tried working in community service for a short time. I have some fond memories but at almost every turn I was confronted with an internal frustration that I still cannot quite articulate. I worked in an environment which, as a whole, wanted me to do something that I either did not understand or did not feel capable of doing. This feeling has been translated in the church. I have worked full time as a pastor for about three years now. There are probably only two aspects of this work that I have really connected with. One, not surprisingly, has been preaching. The church affords me significant prep time and are fairly receptive to my style (although there is some murmuring about it leaning a little to close to lecturing . . . which I think is an accurate criticism at times). The other area, a little more surprising, is in the church's rites of passage particularly funerals and child dedications (weddings not so much). I appreciate these because for the most part I sense that these times are actually meaningful to those who participate. The people involved have their lives intersecting something beyond their usual rhythms. This has happened in other jobs but it appears to occur largely outside the actual stated goals and parameters of the position I am filling. A good part of my time ends up in trying to figure just how I can find the resources to do something that does not make a great deal of sense to me. I pursued pastoring because I loved studying and discussing the Bible and I loved the hope that came when we could vulnerably care and pray for one another. I am hoping in my remaining months at my church that I will reconnect with those things in some way.
So I am fortunate enough to be coming an anticipated shift in my life. I am leaving a job and physically moving to another area. This is a great opportunity. I count it also a slightly more severe fortune that I have not been able to secure any work in Manitoba after my move. I turned down one opportunity and I was passed by on some others.
Two motivations are primarily driving this line of thinking right now. One is an increased sensitivity towards the sort of doxological end that my life is taken up into. We are created as worshiping creatures so I need to be aware of where my knee is bending. Second, I am trying to figure out to what extent to need to 'suck things up' and be happy that I have a job on the one hand or attentively listen to what I might be 'called to' on the other. I feel at times like I am being terribly immature about all this neglecting the great opportunities and work environments that are afforded to me (all this may well boil down to just that). However, I am becoming increasingly aware that not all work is created equal. I have worked some shitty factory-type jobs in which I was more meaningfully connected to my co-workers and I have worked some jobs in which I felt the need to create meaning for a audience that wanted to receive at low cost (if not free . . . well they do have to pay my salary). I need to emphasize that I am not discarding as meaningless everything happening within a given church. But that cannot keep me from clearly articulating, as best I can, the interface of biblical reflection, critical thought, and prayerful posture over top of my ongoing experience. What emerges from this complex? What emerges is a desire to either radically re-configure plan A so that I no longer seek to 'fit' into a professional role. Or it is to follow Plan B which is simply to express that which sustains my spirit and call and allow the so-called necessities of living to become secondary or derivative.
I have heard that someone facing great temptation about how they were to live their life once said a human cannot live by material food alone but rather life is nourished with feeding on every word that comes from God. There are stories of another who cried out,

All you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread?

Should I listen? I don't even know where that voice is coming from. But something feels near. The voice anticipates and says shortly after,
Seek the LORD while he may be found.
I am really not hoping to be dismissed as suffering from hyperbole or melodrama but it doesn't matter. Marion says that the difference between being and non-being is the difference between a world that can found and fund its own being and the one who is called from non-being into being. I find increasingly a lack of resources (not a lack of looking for them) to found and fund my being and so I do hope in being called forth. I am drawnto plan B but terrified that I may follow it and I am terrified that I may not follow it. I believe that perhaps in this time the LORD may be found. I don't know. What I do know is the impending and persistent approach of slumber that seems to come at times when above all one should be keeping watch.

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