In A Testament of Devotion, Thomas Kelly wrote, “We have mistaken the nature of poverty, and thought it was economic poverty.”
He also said, “The deepest need of men is not food and clothing and shelter, important as they are. It is God.”
Our service is to turn others toward God, in whatever language you use. To turn others toward the Divine, toward the Light, toward Christ, toward Love. That is our service. And I wonder what our lives would look like if we knew it.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Called to Be
Since I got back from the last School of the Spirit residency, I have had a strong sense that things are shifting for me. I am having a hard time finding words to describe how I feel, but I will try.
It feels like things are physically changing in my body, or my soul, or maybe both.
One thing that is increasingly clear is that I am called to be a minister. That is terrifying because I don’t know what it means. It feels stronger than being called to ministry, and it is more than the general Quaker idea that we are all ministers. I am afraid that I will screw up, that I will do the wrong thing, that I will not know what I am doing.
I also think that it just means doing what God tells me to do. In some ways, that is comforting, but it is also disconcerting because God and I frequently have different ideas of what I should do.
I did not get any messages to give in meeting between the November and February residencies. It felt like a long time, even though it was just a few months. I noticed my lack of vocal ministry in particular when I visited meetings. For the past year, whenever I have visited meetings, it was more likely than not that I would give vocal ministry. Between November and February, I visited three meetings and didn’t have a thing to say.
Then I gave vocal ministry two weeks in a row, first at the residency and the next week at University Friends Meeting. They were both forms of ministry that I have felt very uncomfortable about in the past: vocal prayer and singing. But they both felt right and good. I also did not experience the days-ahead-of-time dread that I sometimes get when I have to give a message, which was nice. Both messages came very clearly during the meetings, I felt the moment I was supposed to give them, and I did. Even now, I feel okay about them, which is also unusual for me (I tend to second-guess and pick apart vocal ministry a lot, even though I think it’s disrespectful to God).
I had an amazing phone conversation with Noah M last week. I feel like I am still processing a lot of the things we talked about, but one thing in particular felt like a gift. I was saying that I feel comfortable going back and forth between liberal and evangelical Friends because I know the different religious languages, thanks to my childhood in the evangelical church. Noah said that he sees the gift of speaking in tongues as being able to speak different religious languages. I had never thought about that passage that way before and it really resonated with me.
One of the things I feel has been shifting recently is what I feel called to do. The focus I used to have on community doesn’t feel right anymore―it seems like I am called to do something more to do with God. I keep thinking about the message I gave during NPYM annual session last summer, especially this part:
I feel like this is my ministry, what I am called to do. In a spiritually impoverished world, God is calling me to turn others toward God, in whatever language. I don’t have any particular idea how to do this, but it feels right.