Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Wisdom of Calling, The World's Logic

With our recent round of lay-offs at school, and with stories like this one, many of us in the education field are thinking about alternate futures.  Those of us who are older (58 or so) may be able to limp along until retirement.  It's becoming increasingly clear that those of us who are younger should be making alternate plans, especially if our degrees are in the Humanities.

Through the years I've found myself at similar points, and I've found that the major part of the struggle is a failure of imagination.  I think back to myself as a girl, a girl who wanted to be a park ranger or maybe a truck driver or a baker or an actress or a writer--on and on I could go like this.

But now, I'm surrounded by people who say, "But what could I do besides teach?"  They say, "I guess I could do adjunct work."  But there's more to life than teaching.

And yes, I understand that health insurance is the great unknown.  But in the early stages, I think it's important to just let our minds wander, to see where we're drawn.

To put it in theological terms, it's important to stay open to the Holy Spirit and where it leads us.  And it's important to realize that there's not necessarily one clear path.  Many of us think that if we don't find the one clear path, we'll be stuck bushwhacking in the wilderness.  But there may be many paths--the trick may be to choose.

Early on, the trick may be to give ourselves permission to dream.  What would we do if we could do anything?  What would we do if we didn't have to worry about money?

This morning, I've been inspired by this post by Christine Valters Paintner, where she talks about her decision to move to Vienna.  She reminds us, "When we press against life's edges, we discover that so much of what we carry in the world is not necessary. This includes things, but also stories we tell about ourselves and how the world works, and expectations we hold. As I sell and give away most of my possessions I am taking seriously the invitation to loosen my grip on other kinds of excess baggage as well. I am doing my best to let go of the belief that this kind of dream isn't practical or wise. My husband is letting go of a good job in a terrible economy. We have both had to deal with the demon of anxiety around this one. The danger of the times we live in is that fear takes hold of us so easily. We are given so many reasons to be worried about the future. As the storyteller Michael Meade once said, "a false sense of security is the only kind there is." When we make choices purely out of holding onto an idea of how things should be, we are often disappointed. The wisdom of calling does not follow the logic of the world."

How I love that last sentence:  "The wisdom of calling does not follow the logic of the world."  The wisdom of the world tells us to worry about health insurance, to worry about bad luck, to try to protect ourselves in every way we can.

The wisdom of the Holy Spirit invites us to new life, not to paralyzing fear.  Jesus tells us that even sparrows are nurtured in God's economy.  Our religious texts remind us over and over again to be careful of where we store our treasures.

Off I go to my work day, with all sorts of dreams nibbling at the corners of my consciousness.

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