The Way of Life

Originally Posted - 1/3/07

Ever find yourself mired in the muck and you ask, “what am I doing here?” As I struggle with this expletive degree, every now and again, I find myself asking just that question. It is a question that also emerges as I struggle as a pastor (have I mentioned that I am a pastor?), trying to balance my studies and my ministry. Granted, my studies are a part of my ministry, but there is a separation between the two.

A question of vocation, or of life, was thrust upon me as I read Parker Palmer’ Let Your Life Speak. It is not an academic work, and not for my exam. I read this book in preparation for a gathering of young clergy serving small churches called the First Parish Project. It is a short book with some good insight. While I disagree with the Quaker influenced theology (God is our inner-light), I think Palmer does offer some good points. Primarily the emphasis on doors closing, ways closing and death. Palmer claims that out of death, new life emerges. Out of closure and rejection new paths open. Not only is Palmer right, but it is refreshing to hear this idea in a way that does not look for the “silver lining” on every cloud. That is weak. Palmer, instead, is looking to stay with the cloud until the necessary time passes. That is better.

It reminds me of an essay in the book The Ties that Bind comparing Glenn Hinson’s works with Blackbury’s work (I think). The point I remember is Hinson focusing and staying with the despair, hurt and darkness. Blackbury looked to the sin that caused the despair and how to “fix it.” Hinson stayed with the despair.

So, when I am in the muck and wondering why I’m here, I’ll try to stop wondering and just keep moving. Studying for a doctorate will cause pain, there is no way to avoid it. Having children will cause pain. Serving a church will cause pain. Yet, we look for the presence of God in the pain, the joy in the tears, and the moment when the pain passes. This is the way life leads.