It was not raining, but it was very wet, wanting to rain. One could feel the weather yearning to let loose. The fog was thick, rolling by, pouring out over the land. Drops of water beaded at the tips of pine and cedar needles. Jays flew back and forth, landing in dead pines, announcing themselves. I got to my morning tasks. A moment of these and I returned my gaze. Sun was shining through the fog, the beads of water illuminated and glistening in the glare. Chainsaws and construction vehicles start their day early. And yet all I hear is the songs of wren and chickadee celebrating spring. The wind itself delights and dances. It is going to rain, that is for sure, just not quite yet.
My life is spent pondering mysteries and delving deeply into what it means to follow the Way (which I shall continue to use despite finding the term has been soiled by popular literature, which in only a few short years no one will remember). There are several paths in the Christian life, illustrated by characters in Bible and history. All seem to be approved by God, and yet all three contain inherent weakness that requires others to complete the fullness of the Christian life.
There are the pastors, the missionaries, and the, for want of a better term, monastics. Each expresses an aspect of the fullness of Jesus’ life, who was the only person who was indwelled with the fullness of the Spirit. We have a part of his whole, and can only display those parts. The pastor cares and teaches those who are in the kingdom, maturing and leading, enveloped in the lives of those around so that together the community may mature. The missionaries seek out new souls, entreating and convincing, knowing that God loves all people and desires all people to find fullness in Christ. The monastic (which I use though I don’t imply the Catholic form and all those trappings) is called to a life a prayer, a life of pursuing the depths of the Christian life.
The monastic digs the mines, the pastor mines the ore, and the missionary distributes it to others. The monastic is the explorer, the missionary is the trader, the pastor is the settler. Made unique and united by the Spirit all three are essentially, and cannot claim a hierarchy of importance. Of the three, the pastor type is the most plentiful, the standard which the other types must deviate. For we are all called to care for each other, and only specific callings can suggest more specific plans. We are who we are, and while it is easy to feel guilty for not being something else, something which may in fact be more popular, we can only be who the Spirit wishes us to be. There is only grace in that, there is exhaustion and frustration otherwise, even if we think we are doing good.
The trick of the Spiritual life is to not want others to be who we are. I’ve made that mistake, to be sure. We accept others, everyone, because Christ accepts them, and do not judge, except in places of explicit sin, because we ourselves also fail. Unity in the church is not based on either agreement nor is it based on perfect responses. It is based on a commitment to each other despite ourselves, raising neither ourselves nor others up on a pedestal.
Our path is not the path of others, though many lessons and thoughts can and should be shared. It is Christ alone who gives us sustenance, who gives us strength, who gives us love. Some of our problems are indeed real, many come from a faltering faith. Christ calls us to reach out to the hungry, to the sick, to the poor widows and children, to give a hand to those who are blinded by physical causes beyond their means to repair. He also calls us to have faith, to stand when we want to crumble, to put on the armor of faith so that when the day of evil comes, we stand our ground, and having done everything, we continue to stand.
So, we learn to walk and learn to stand, like toddlers approaching a new stage of being. I am very thankful for those who were there when I needed help, and thankful for those who have helped me learn to stand on my own.
Today, I consider my regular tasks again, and seek to live this life with a ruthless devotion to the call of God for me. I am ready, I think, to jump in a moment to help where I can, and also ready to remain patient when the call does not come. Only in prayer and training can I be alert to both. And that is my goal for the day. There are seasons to this life, times of calling and times of waiting. All the greats of the faith went through these seasons, it seems. Training for battle, and readying for tasks beyond human ability.
I’ve no doubt that someday soon God will call me to more active service, for now though, I seem asked to only do what I can do, and trust that God is doing all in all. By embracing this reality I find peace.