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I Have Questions

I am on what I have decided is a spiritual sabbatical. It doesn’t mean that I’m staying away from my spiritual self. It means that I am intentionally taking this time to care for my spiritual self – to question, contemplate, reason (if that’s possible) and rest in the presence of God. I’ve experienced a tough year almost two for various happenstances and intentions. All of that, culminating in my present state of wellness which is not where I would like it to be. (Unwellness is the more appropriate word but it sounds so harsh.)

So I have questions. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how I perceive what passion looks like. I’m watching Americans act (or react mostly) to their environment (eclipse, riot, ordinariness) and I wonder if these actions are a result of some passionate nature or dedication to a lifestyle or personal conviction or discipline. I can’t tell because the aftermath – the quiet time after events happen, don’t change the overall state of our everyday existence in our respective contexts. All the isms seem to be alive and well.

Is passion a good thing? It has so many meanings – fanaticism, relentless pursuit, violent anger, extravagant self-righteousness, pious suffering or some unyielding endless joy (satisfaction). These are my paraphrases so others undoubtedly would say something else.

I used to think that the best career I could have would be one where I’m passionate about what I’m doing. I imagined it would be like the warm fuzzies I felt while listening to the blended harmonies of Earth, Wind & Fire or Patti LaBelle hitting some outrageous note and holding it longer than I could hold my breath. Or my favorite Prince songs – not the vulgar ones, the ones whose lyrics were like the F# of ordinary prose and deep like the ocean.

Somehow my idea of career passion became about answering God’s call to ministry. But there’s so much ambiguity in that. Which ministry? Frankly, I’m still wondering. And the wondering is part of this sabbatical time. Yet I am haunted by an experience.

One day, I visited a colleague I didn’t know very well. We were becoming friends. My introvert self doesn’t visit folks very often so I was trying to branch out. Anyway, we had a great conversation. She was beaming when she told me that she had been spending some “slowdown” time with God and had finally figured out what was her specific ministerial call. She was excited to get back to it. I remember thinking how joyful that must feel. I mean I could see it in her face. I knew I wished for that clarity and felt hopeful that it would come to me one day like it did for her. She died that night. Unexpectedly. Gone.

So I have questions. My theology couldn’t handle that notion. There is so much that I’ve contemplated about that encounter and the ways that it has affected me, even now. How many of us have been profound random variables in someone else’s life and not even known it or the impact of it? What does that mean with regard to our actions or reactions to current events or relationships? Do we save our best words for later? Another reason to place my stone here.

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