“I believe there is within us this image of God…There is something deep within us, in everybody,that gets buried and distorted and confused and corrupted by what happens to us. But it is there as a source of insight and healing and strength.” ~ Frederick Buechner
Who am I really? Who was I created to be before life happened? What is the passion for service that God put within me before I was born and before the world took me over? What was his dream for me? These aren’t rhetorical questions, nor are they really questions that totally came to me out of the content of last week’s retreat. But they did start floating to the surface when I was reading a book while there (Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation), a very worthwhile book in my opinion. Have there been life clues to these answers over the years?
I have always been contemplative. I loved silence and solitude. I still do. I never minded being alone and often resented interruptions. I grew shy and very introverted. I was blessed by growing up in a time when there were few distractions. I loved being outside, and about age two or three, my getaway place was under a bush with weeping leafy branches to hide and comfort me. When I was in my teens my sanctuary place was high in a cherry tree where I could be alone.
I loved reading. I fell downstairs twice in one of our houses because my mother had called me and I couldn’t bear to stop reading before I got to the bottom. My grandmother taught me about imagination. She made up stories and played “Movie Theater” with me. Outside, we would look at a blank wall of a shed while she told an imaginary story. I saw the images play out on that wall. She and I saw an actual movie about a polio victim when I was seven. A nurse would rub her legs to help her. Grandma would rub mine because I had horrible leg aches at night. Then I wanted to be a nurse when I grew up. Through, at least, first grade, I liked to play school. Sometimes I was the teacher and sometimes the student. Once, on a rainy school day, I gathered some classmates and put together a play – mostly ad lib. Our teacher let us perform it. I was both playwright and director and also one of the actors (overachiever? Maybe.)
I always loved singing and began singing in adult choir when I was ten. I sang in school chorus as long as I was allowed. I need music. It heals me. I know something is wrong when I can’t find it singing around inside me. Also at ten years old, my other grandmother gave me a book for my birthday – “Ann of Bethany.” Ann was a young girl who happened to be at the well when Mary, Joseph and Jesus were on their way to Egypt. When Mary got down from the donkey to get a drink of water, Ann was allowed to hold Jesus. I acted out this story over and over with my doll behind my father’s recliner. I draped a blanket over that and another chair to make my alone place – my sanctuary of solitude – to live with this story. I wanted to always hold Jesus and carry him with me.
So who am I really? What are the clues and the passions from these life stories that might connect me to God’s dream for me? Has the world and the expectations of me by others blinded me to my call? Stay tuned……Next week.
“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” ~ Frederick Buechner