Site icon Being, Wandering

Answering the Second Question

I cringe at the well-meaning second question. You know, the one that comes after the exchange of names? The second question upon meeting new people is no longer easy to answer, at least not as a simple nicety. 

Where do you work?

It’s almost enough to make me a hermit! Do I launch into the detailed explanation about the “Holy Spirit moment” I had in the summer of 2010 which catapulted me on a journey of following the Spirit to Portland? Do I explain that God has me on a need-to-know basis, that for now I’m just learning to be? 

Nah, that always seems so woo-woo for casual social encounters. Even church people – especially church people – seem to expect a rational, heady, logical response rather than a spiritual one. I grow weary of the glassy-eyes, the “uh huh,” and the silent reactions. 

I’ve found that saying, “To pay a few bills I’m substitute teaching while I’m working on a new project” satisfies most folks. But that doesn’t feel honest or represent the spiritual nature of who I am. So, I sometimes mention my participation in the Occupy Portland chaplains hoping that sounds more ministerial. 


American culture is filled with admonishments that we must “take the bull by the horns” lest we lead an unhappy, pitiful life of failure. Our mainstream culture tells us that we must do, that we must achieve, and that we must make things happen

The result of all this doing is people who are miserable, stressed, worried, and anxious. When we focus only on doing, on the American doctrine that says our worthiness is based upon the money we make, the things we accumulate, and being busy, we fail to notice the Divine.

What if we practiced presence with one another instead of seeking to control our futures? What if we fully lived the moment we’re in rather than setting goals ad nauseum? What if we focused on being rather than doing

I suggest we would live our lives more true to the teachings of Jesus and the life he modeled. In slowing down and living in the present rather than worrying about the future, I have begun to notice the Divine all around me. I’ve been more available to others. I am more fully the person God created me to be. Life is easier.

I still struggle with being and the guilt of not doing. This is a rocky path for me. I’ve spent my entire adult life embracing the dogma of doing.

Still, I know I’m on the right path for it is the Spirit who has set me upon it. Though I worry at times about what I should be doing, I know that if I listen and be, all will become clear. 

God Who Is,

You who love us extravagantly,
   not because of what we do,
      but because of who we are…

You whose love transformed death,
   into life…

You who created all that we know,
   and created us in your own image…

Continue to be a beacon for us,
   of how to love and be.

Help us to slow down,
   to accept that you love each of us.
Help us to slow down,
   and listen,
      so that we hear you lure us to love.

In the name of the One who listened,
   took you into his being,
      and became love on earth.


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