Thank you to everyone who responded to my question in last week’s Minister’s Message about who is reading and benefitting from the Ministers’ Messages that Michelle and I share each week. (I received more than 20 responses, with many thoughtful comments. It was definitely nice to have a two-way connection!)
I want to be clear that Michelle and I both appreciate the chance to share a mid-week message – we just wanted to be sure that the time and effort was energy well-spent. So, again, I’m very grateful for the feedback, and the messages WILL continue!
I was also pleasantly surprised to discover last week, after I had written my “Minister’s Message,” that Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation addressed a very similar topic. Entitled, “Seeking God’s Will,” it was so relevant and instructive to my own reflection that I thought I would share it with you all this week. It begins with a quote from Bill Plotkin, of Soulcraft:
“You need to find what is genuinely yours to offer the world before you can make it a better place. Discovering your unique gift to bring to your community is your greatest opportunity and challenge. The offering of that gift—your true self—is the most you can do to love and serve the world. And it is all the world needs.”
It continues, affirming my own realization that this is not a “once and done” process, saying, “Once we have discerned ‘What is mine to do?’ it can be tempting to believe we have settled the question once and for all. However, clinging to a single answer may limit our ability to grow and to trust the ongoing guidance of the Holy Spirit.”
And then it offers a wonderful story of how Father Richard practiced continuing discernment, after founding the CAC. He explains in his own words:
“In the mid 1990s, the head of the Franciscan Order in Rome said that he wanted each province in the world to send someone to Africa.
“I spoke with my spiritual director about it. We agreed that I was probably experiencing ‘success guilt,’ feeling that everything had come far too easily to me. I think I still live with this. I really didn’t seek or search for such success, but now I am used to it. I am used to having power and used to being listened to and being kowtowed to. It’s dangerous when you are always the person that others are listening to. I guess I was afraid I was becoming too well-known and that my ego had gotten too big! So when this invitation came from Rome, I said, ‘I think I should go to Africa.’
“I left CAC for a thirty-day discernment retreat with Maryknoll. My goal was to discover God’s will for my life, but I was fully expecting to go to Africa afterward.
“Near the end of the retreat we each sat down privately with the leadership team of four or five wise people, primarily nuns. They told us what they saw and heard and thought, so we didn’t have to take the decision on by ourselves. Nor did we have to follow their recommendations. We could go back to our own superiors and make the final decision.
“Well, the leadership team told me, ‘We are convinced that you have a gift for America—to preach the gospel to a first world country. There’s not much point in you talking about the poor in Kenya; you need to talk about it in North America.’ It was the consensus of the whole group. They said, ‘It’s your decision, but we strongly recommend that you stay here and keep doing what you are doing. If you are worried about your success guilt, well, you can worry about it!’
“I remember driving back from San Antonio, Texas, all the way through the Guadalupe Mountains, and everything was beautiful! I felt so happy, relieved and recommitted to working with the Center for Action and Contemplation.”
I can relate to Rohr’s concern or even guilt about having life seemingly come too easy, even if still deeply meaningful. It can call us to take on more difficult challenges, which admittedly, often get us out of our comfort zone and provide opportunities for a different kind of growth. That is certainly true of the work I’ve done with Unity Worldwide Ministries, chairing the Standards Committee (which serves as policy advisors to the Board of Trustees) through some transitional years for our movement.
But it is equally important to stay in the question – listening for the guidance of Spirit – as to “what is mine to do today?” And to also realize, there’s nothing wrong with some “ease and grace” on this journey…
“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…” Ecclesiastes 3:1