“And what do you do?” That question is often a loaded question. It is loaded with cultural expectations about what it means to be worthy. Those who work constantly, especially to their own physical detriment are too often those held in the highest esteem.
My spiritual journey is about learning to BE. Many folks I meet do not understand. Aware of this, I seek to give a nearly-unintelligible response that sounds like it is about DOING.
“Deflect in small-talk” has become my motto. I am happy to elaborate and talk about my life journey (which is inseparable from my spiritual journey), in the right settings. Small-talk is not the place for that elaboration.
Sometimes my strategy of deflection comes face-to-face with someone who is bound and determined to tell me what I should be DOING. Typically this person is seeking to remold my statement that, “I’m following the Spirit’s luring to do something new” into their own worldview. They seek to quantify me by the standards of paid-work, by DOING, by goals, objectives, & outcomes.
Most of the time this free-advice is not offered in malice. Usually it is offered not only in kindness and compassion but also in ignorance of what it means to focus on BEING. That’s when I must endure the machine-gunned bullets of advice and questions until I can gracefully make my escape. Those who are enmeshed in DOING, rarely understand what it means to BE.
The Spirit is calling me toward creating something new. This calling first was first revealed to me in a “Holy Spirit moment” during communion (sometimes called Eucharist or the Lord’s Supper). This new something has involved a geographic journey to Oregon, first to Portland and now to the Columbia River Gorge.
At this part of the journey, I am learning to BE. The Buddhists sometimes refer to it as mindfulness. I am accepting of this part of my spiritual/life journey. God has not abandoned me yet. Sometimes, however, machine-gunned questions or comments release my own past life of DOING, of goals and objectives and outcomes. Sometimes anxiety I thought I had let go of, is still present. I deal with this by acknowledging it, accepting it as part of my experience, embracing what it teaches me, and choosing to BE present where and when I am. I choose to BE.
And what does that mean for me as a follower of Jesus?
I seek to BE God’s presence with others. I seek to BE God’s forgiveness & extravagant love to all whom I meet, allowing God to work through me. I often do not achieve this because of my imperfections but I fail before I start when I am about DOING.
When I focus on DOING, I fail to BE who I was created to BE. When I focus on DOING, I am out-of-touch with the interconnectedness of humanity and creation, and seek to impose my will. When I’m not BEING, I cannot possibly DO the work of the One.
When I am about BEING, I recognize that I am just one part of humanity and creation. When I am about BEING, I strive to not only use my gifts for the common good but I encourage others to use their gifts. I find myself taking better care of myself and others when I seek to BE.
I find myself concerned about others within and beyond my community because I perceive our interconnectedness. I am willing to be flexible, I get less upset about setbacks, and see things in new ways. When I am true to who I am created and being created to be, I find myself DOING that which matches my gifts, skills, and talents joyfully rather than out of obligation.
Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. 30For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
(Luke 12: 27-31 NRSV Click here to read in context.)