Between Two Worlds Day 22 (of 40)
Most mornings I dedicate a good 45 minutes or so to some quiet reflection and writing. For the past few months I have been reading Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakenings, 365 short meditations. On Thursday I read one that really stuck with me. Here is one portion:
“Before we live what’s next, it always seems like there is some answer we need to arrive at. But daring to enter, we are humbled to discover, again and again, that the act of living itself unravels both the answer and the question. When we watch, we remain riddles to be solved. When we enter, we become songs to be sung.”
I took a big deep breath when I read that line, “We become songs to be sung.” I think about where I was over twenty-five years ago when I first entered the ministry. I wanted to excel at playing the part of the pastor. It was a role in the community and I did the best I could not only fit into that role, but to play by its rules. The role had a set of responsibilities as well as boundaries. I had taken vows to serve in the capacity of a Minister of Word and Sacrament. In seminary I remember being told to be careful that we didn’t put too much “I” into our sermons and into the role. Like soldiers, we were serving a greater purpose and personality had to take a back seat.
These days I can’t even tell the difference between my personality and my role as a minister. In fact I would hesitate to too narrowly define myself as a minister. Now I am some complex mixture of writer, pastor, community agitator, spiritual pilgrim, overly-ambitious cyclist, and blogger. And more importantly I feel that I am employing all the I-ness I have into my role. Instead repressing the “I” part of me to do the role I feel like all I have is “I”. The role and my personality has melded into one.
I write this because somewhere in the soup of the past two decades I went from feeling like the idea of playing a role dissolved away. Nepo’s comment captured how I feel these days: “I feel like I am allowing myself to become a song that is sung.” I am not even in charge of the song. Some spirit larger than myself is singing me. I feel almost out of control in the same way that a writer feels like the story is writing her rather than the other way around.
As I thought about this subtle shift that has taken place I was struck by Nepo’s comment that this feeling of becoming a song to be sung happens when we choose to enter life rather than just watching or observing from a distance. Observing is safe and sterile. Entering and engaging is risky and messy. It’s one thing to approach life as a spectator; a whole other thing to step into the ring.
What is worth stepping into the ring for you?
What is so important to you that you are willing to take the risk to be hurt, to lose, to make mistakes, to look like the fool?