The Holiness factor

One of the funny things about working in the Church is that sometimes God actually catches up to you. May came as a bit of a whirlwind month with travel every other weekend, the wrapping up of the school year at UCSD, a lot of planning for summer adventures, and the like. A year passed since I had returned from Honduras, and I realize now how quickly I had re-assimilated into the rushed American professional lifestyle. I can tell by the huge backlog of emails , bills, and the to do list I just mounted on my bulletin board with 20+ items on it. I have spent my life this year “running to catch up again.” (as one of my great prophets, Mr. Jason Mraz, sings) Yesterday though, I had one of those moments where God caught up.

In the midst of all of the craziness of everyday life yesterday I had an afternoon to re-read some of “Practicing Resurrection” by Nora Gallagher. In this book she narrates the internal and external journey of discovering a sense of call towards priestly ministry and the insanity of the institutional discernment process in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. Having finished the San Diego process in the past few months, I resonated even more with her story. The process has a top-heavy forward momentum to it. The person seems propelled toward the finish line of ordination. I have a number of friends in the Church going through the discernment process in one way or another, and at my age many friends discerning their sense of call in general. It seems that American life can have that same top heavy motion to it. We rush forward toward some goal, careening on the edge of sanity as we pursue money, status, property, the picture of family life, the right career. The “American Dream” seems always around the next bend, after the next purchase, the next pay increase, the next decision about our future. It can leave you dizzy.

That’s why I said it was funny when God caught up. Yesterday, reading, procrastinating from getting a lot done I had that sneaking suspicion that God was around. It came as a surprise. I have been busy this month and my “inner life” has suffered for it. When I was goofing around reflecting, God showed up to say, “remember me?” I struggle to explain what this is like, so as not to sound too insane. God doesn’t come to me in visions of bright light or as a booming voice, it’s more of a hunch like the sense you might get on a beautiful summer day that it might rain later. Often for me when God does “show up,” when that fleeting sense of the divine comes in it causes me to laugh, drop my shoulders, and let go of the tension of whatever I was worrying over or running through.

Remembering God helps us to let go of the drivenness of my daily life, the relentless “pursuit of happiness,” and to relax into the already present reality of our salvation, God’s love. Even those of us who like to think of ourselves as working to change the world need to let go sometimes (actually a lot of us probably need to be reminded let go more often than those who work in more conventional professions), and remember that God has greater things in mind for us and the world than we could possibly dream up, and that we are already loved by one who loves us better than we can love ourselves.

Published by Mike Angell

The Rev. Mike Angell is rector of The Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion in St. Louis.

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