Posts Tagged ‘Life Work’


Are we always a pinkie toe may seem like a ludicrous spiritual question, yet in the world of allegory of the body one knows how relevant a pinkie toe can be in the dark and finding the coffee table?  A moment of instant discernment via pain, which is a unique contemplation as I sit reflecting on my journey over the last 2 ½ years that due to health saw me lose my helping vocation, or did it?

See, my discernment was about making my own corner of the world a little bit better as I attempted to live the Great Commandments:

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your entire mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

-Matthew 22:34-40 (English Standard Version)

It was the discovery of these red letters in a broken open red Gideon’s New Testament that brought me back into formal church, and unpacking the understanding, inspiration and living of it that led me for over 20 years into various fields of helping whether it was persons with disabilities, youth, young adults, seniors, patients with dementia, the homeless sector, politics, writing to name but a few…

Then it all came crashing down through unknown illness. There was no nice neat package bow of change…like a pinkie toe breaking against the coffee table one dark night the body was going to be changed for a time. And there was no telling what would be after healing. For St. Paul writes to the church in Corinth this about the body:

12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles,[e] some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.[f]

14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?

18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”

-1 Corinthians 12:12-21 (New Living Translation)

We can tend to use the concept of being in the body and our gifts to create parts of the body. We may declare we are heart, liver, pancreas, toes, fingers, etc… but it can easily be that once discernment has happened that we limit God. Yes you read that right, we so become in tune with our purpose, what we will dub “our calling” (or vocation) that we do not know how to respond when that purpose ends—either positively or negatively. What happens to us? Our identity in Christ? Our holy belonging in the Body of Christ? For if we were this important piece of the body, and now no longer fill that function—someone else will. So what of us?

This is the quandary on emerging from a dark night of the soul, and looking into the new dawn; an apt metaphor this Lenten Season leading into Easter tide of the Empty Tomb, and the new Sonrise of Easter Sunday. Is our heart open to the new journey? To understanding that even though our function (body part) may have changed, that we are still blessed? We are still an Imageo Dei as was laid out for us in the Hebrew Creation Poem in Genesis 1, specifically day 6 (v. 26-27):

26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind[a] in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth,[b] and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

27 So God created humankind[c] in his image,
in the image of God he created them;[d]
male and female he created them.

 

For that is our creation, interdependent in the Holy “our”. The Trinity if you will, and this is how we interweave into the Body of Christ, our Community, with our calling-vocation-purpose, and when we are left with seismic shift it can leave one feeling a what if, or distraught. Yet, in the essence we are drawn closer into the Mystery of Faith. In this mystery we can begin to discern our new calling or redefinition of existing calling. Not in a vacuum but through looking at skills, encouragements from trusted friends, family and mentors. This also allows for us to change the way we belong in the Body of Christ as our gifts may shift, change and evolve with our new vocational calling.

 

As my pinkie toe healed, but I had perhaps, moved up the foot or toe spectrum. For I may not be in the field, but there was a shift for a time. It was a shift to equipping and teaching the next wave of servants for this season of life. This rests well…is it a permanent shift? Long-Term? Who knows, what is known is for this time and place this is where I am and meant to be.

For the learning on recovery it is about being open to the possibility of the new. As I phrased it to friends, I felt like I was in the seventh season of a television show and one opportunity before me felt like a spin off was going to begin, and then a teaching opportunity felt like a season 8 renewal to reframe a closure or something else, as we know once a show reaches that longevity there is usually a status quo shake up to keep viewers coming back. It was the renewal I received.

Or as noted in my journey of learning to live the Great Commandments, shifting from one body part to another in creating radical belonging for the diverse and blessed Imageo Dei’s of our world.

Today, contemplate in your vocational life…

Are you always a pinkie toe?

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