I write in a time of Pentecost, reflecting on a time of Pentecost, a time of the church, a time guided by the wind of the Holy Spirit. I write seeking the words and phrases to adequately express my experiences as a Lilly Intern this summer at Gloria Dei. I write with the intention of discerning vocation. But summing up any grand experience in a short reflection, recollection or remembrance is difficult. The narrative and poetic memory of the Hebrews, their history and prophetic voices, express this difficulty eloquently. So do the gospel writers' accounts with the risen Christ. So do Paul's epistles. So does John of Patmos' Revelation. So do the writings of the early Church mothers and fathers. So do the writings of Martin Luther and his fellow reformers.
So, too, do we experience the difficulties of memory and discernment.
Indeed, articulating and interpreting the experiences imbedded in our memory is difficult, especially when it is meant to help direct our future, our becoming identity. And yet with this difficulty in mind I proceed to recall this summer, to remember this summer, to understand this summer in light of its original callings. I listen for the wind of the Holy Spirit for guidance in this task.
I began this summer asking questions of vocation: Who am I called to be? Who am I called to become? Is there life post-St. Olaf? With my experiences through the Gloria Dei community, I looked to articulate at least partial answers to these questions of vocation, but perhaps look more importantly to articulate the deeper questions that arise in faith and community. What is the vocation of a community of faith?
I go forth from this summer seeing subtle transfigurations, in God's people, in creation, in my own sense of vocation. Even though I could not even begin to speak the truths of my experiences, I am encouraged that the embers are still lit, propelling me skyward. Vocational discernment is never about the final answer, final decision, final determination. In fact, when you've got the final answer nailed down, that's when you know you're probably wrong. Instead, discernment and vocation are about the process, the journey, the people, the “least of these” you meet along the way. That's the beauty in following Christ: to travel and grow wherever you may be called, to see the glory of creation along that path, to step into those contexts you may be needed.
Those contexts, for me, include graduate study in religion, continued involvement in the church in whatever way I may end up, and a healthy dose of intellectual curiosity as I begin to see the path ahead of me.
So, even while I do not always know to what I have been called, I will go forward glowing with faith and courage in the dark night of the sky.
May I have the courage to see transfigurations along the way.