A Little Bit of Clarity
Episcopal Diocese of Washington
Bishops Blog - Bishop's Blog: Post
Bishop Mariann’s Blog
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
"What fills the heart with happiness is not what we get out of the world; it’s what we put into it. Being about something worthwhile, spending our lives on something worth spending our lives on is what, in the end, makes us happy. A creative God didn’t complete creation so that we might have the happiness that comes with continuing to co-create it ourselves."
- Joan Chittister, Following the Path: The Search for a Life of Passion, Purpose and Joy
Years ago, when our children were young and I was at a vocational turning point, I took our family to diocesan camp for a weekend. The camp director was a parish priest, who seemed rather old to me at the time, but was probably in his late 50s. During our visit, he told me that he was leaving his camp position to assume a new job, as the director of a group home for troubled adolescents.
He could barely contain his excitement about his future work. In the world of church vocations, this was clearly not a move up the ecclesiastical ladder. Yet the soon-to-be-former camp director spoke with such joy. “I feel as if I have been preparing my whole life for this job.”
He told me a lot with those words, about his own troubled childhood, perhaps, and where he felt most of use, how his particular gifts could best be used. He also spoke of the miracle of grace, how pieces of our life and history that we regret or are lost to us can come back and be woven into a new tapestry of meaning.
I remember thinking at the time, “I want to be able to say that someday.” I wanted that depth of integration and sense of purpose. Intuitively I sensed that such clarity comes with a price, that there was no way to leap frog over the years of uncertainty to attain it. I also could tell simply by looking at his face that finding the work you’re born for doesn’t guarantee a life without struggle, or hardship, or pain.
Perhaps we’re never given complete clarity about the nature of our life’s work; maybe we’re given just enough clarity to rise on a given day and do the work God has given us to do. But a little bit of clarity goes a long way. A little bit goes a long way, helping us to sort through the myriad of things that we could do and select the one or two things that give us the greatest joy. A little bit of clarity goes a long way, allowing us to accept the imperfections and broken parts of our selves and to trust that with God, nothing is wasted. A little bit can help us in those luminous moments of decision, when we choose the path that makes our heart sing.
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