Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Different Discernment Narrative

Yesterday I slipped away from work to help buy food for food banks.  We primarily shopped for our church's little food bank, but I also bought food for our school's food bank.

Yes, let that sink in.  I work at a school with very high tuition compared to state schools.  Students take on enormous loan burdens to go there.  Many of them are hungry.

On my more ambitious days, I think of our Culinary department and what might be done.  We have kitchens, after all.  On my less ambitious days, I go to the grocery store and buy pasta that comes in pop top cans, food that can be eaten with no prep.

On our way to and from the grocery store, we talked about discernment and future plans.  We talked about how the Holy Spirit will have to be a lot more obvious if we need to go in certain directions.

I tend to think that God has a specific plan, and in my younger years, I worried that I wasn't following the plan that God had laid out for me.

I profess to believe in free will, but I still have this vision of a God with a plan.  I'm still haunted by a feeling that I'm falling short.

Let me hasten to say that I think those feelings are a product of my brain, not a judgment from God.  Let me hasten to say that I'm not really sure that God has a plan, but instead that God can use any number of circumstances as God goes about God's business of redeeming creation.

We are not marionettes.  We are not characters in a static picture.

And yet.  And yet.  I do have this vision of God as being the one with the bigger picture.  I do like to think that God will offer guidance--or maybe a push--if we ask.  I like the idea of a God that says, "You'll be happier here than there.  You'll feel more fulfilled here than there.  You can do more good here than there." 

Some days, I feel like I pray for guidance and get no specific direction.  Other times, I feel a steady push.  And it's not just in retrospect.  I can think of several times in my life when I was aware of that push, even as it was happening.

These days, I'm feeling no push.  I could interpret my school's decision to keep me as Coordinator of Humanities and Communication as a sign from God, but it doesn't feel that way.

Perhaps the time is not now.  The Bible is full of narratives of waiting and watching.

Or perhaps I'm listening for the wrong message.  In the middle of the night last night, again, I heard the message to return to my memoir, to get it ready, to hasten my progress.

My religious tradition schools me to think I should listen for a message of being sent out to a different location.  My religious tradition has not spent much time focusing on the followers who get a lot done by sitting in the chair and focusing on the task at hand.

Maybe I need a different discernment tale.   

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