I found myself in the path of a cotton wood tree, once, as it shed its seed. The air around me was thick, saturated with the pollen choked, life-giving debris. And, of course, being me, I sneezed. And sneezed. And sneezed.
You get the idea. I received what the tree innocently transmitted, with the immediate result. My receiver got what was transmitted in the air around me.
I speculate, years later, that the air around us, around body and soul, is replete with transmitted messages, even now. Some messages are received involuntarily. I would not have wanted to sneeze, necessarily, but it was the appropriate reaction when my body accepted the transmitted information from the local grove.
God, one speculates as well, if one is inclined to believe God is and that God blesses those who believe and live to please God, must incessantly be transmitting information to, or at least toward, persons. God addresses you, us, them, even me. Martin Buber, the thinker, says,”To live is to be addressed.”
I write this because I received several messages yesterday from dear friends reminding me, “God is not dead.” I agree. I spoke with the Old Rascal repeatedly last week and wish to report God is both alive and kicking, if my receptors are any indication.
This, of course, brings me back to the matter of grace, which can be actualized in one’s response to God’s calling. Calling is an act of grace, for God need not speak to us at all. If grace is unmerited favor, then calling is certainly an act of grace. God has nothing substantial to gain from us, other than that which God seems to want from us; our advancement in companionship with the divine.
I have spent a life time saying I have been called by God to do the work I do, which is to live the life I live, as best I am able to live this life. I tell other potential ministers not to do this work if they can do anything else and still be happy. They do not have to be delirious, just serene, bordering on contentment, and that will be enough. If, however, you have the call, well, get in the bowl and swim, for there is where you will find the grace to live the life.
For those without what we used to call a vocation (sacred calling to the prophetic life), there is a blessing of grace that cannot be equaled in any other life; to do God’s will each day without the burden of a clerical call. The so-called laity is the front line of the Christian army. The battle comes down to the soldier in the lead. The victory belongs to the willing warrior.
This begs the question, to what has God called me? We might answer this in three ways:
- Where have you been? To find where we are to go today, we might take a look, not at yesterday, but at ten or twenty years ago. The end might be most visible from the beginning of the path, not on the trail itself. We may have to go back, reconnect with what we know (or knew) and then re-attach the ligament that holds the joint together. You know, the joint where I meets Thou.
- Where are you? Take a closer look. Do you sneeze in a cotton-wood grove? In the path of a single tree? What does your body tell you? What keeps happening to you? What do you do over and over again that just does not work for you? Where are you now? Take your temperature. Take stock of your symptoms.
- Where do you really want to go? By want, I probably mean need. We would all like to go to the Bubble-Up Stream on Big Rock Candy Mountain. At least, that is what we think, or what use the State Lottery? Please note, as so many have done, not many decide to buy into a drawing after the results have been obtained. What the future sells to us is hope, but we most often need actualized hope, which may, again be grace, in the present, lest the carrot prove to be the stick, after all.
A great Czech patriot and playwrite once said, of hope that it, hope, “is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but that something makes sense, no matter how it turns out.”
There is calling, calm, contented, a current running through the cosmos, admitting each of us by grace through faith, into a place and time where our happiest hopes materialize. We have to do the hard work of faith, which may be not much other than just receiving the divine work of grace around us and then in us.