Sunday, June 22, 2008

Subtlety Thy Name Is God--NOT!

I recently e-mailed my pastor, lamenting my feelings of directionlessness and how they fly in the face of my strong sense of being called in some way. We enjoyed a candid exchange on faith, ministry and mission, service and purpose in life. I wondered if I shouldn't be attending seminary all the while suspecting that ordained ministry isn't where I'm called. Pastor Rob verbalized my misgivings, lovingly cautioning that seminary isn't necessarily "the answer." Finally, I wrote, "Maybe I just need a reading list."

After hitting "Send" I turned my attention to a new e-mail from my best friend, Susan, who lives a thousand miles away from me in Maryland. It was a forwarded message from her sister-in-law's pastor and it contained--wait for it--a reading list.

On that list was Walking On Water by Madeleine L'Engle, a work about faith and art. The description spoke to me. Still reeling from the "coincidence" of receiving this email, I buzzed out to my local library's web site wondering if the system had a copy and how long it would take to get it if I reserved it today.

There were at least a dozen copies in the Hennepin County Library system and my local library had one. Checked in. Right now.

I noted the Dewey Decimal number and hopped into my car. Upon arrival at the library, I bee-lined for the proper section, found the general area and looked down. The book fairly jumped off the shelf at me. I am dead serious. It was smaller, thicker and more colorful than any of the books around it and it was literally the first one I focused on. For good measure, I perused the rest of the section to see if anything else was screaming to be picked up. Nothing. I was home fifteen minutes after I'd left.

I am halfway through the book. My conviction that creativity is a divine call has been reinforced. My faith in fiction as an acceptable Christian discipline has been restored. My reading list is suddenly longer than I can possibly imagine, yet I am excited to tackle it.

One unexpected side effect of this everyday miracle is a feeling of bereavement. I deeply regret than unlike my mother or my best friend, Susan, I will never have the opportunity to meet and speak with Madeleine L'Engle in the flesh. I recall my casual reaction to her dying as just "one of those things" and now I fervently wish I could write her a letter, send her an e-mail, somehow physically acknowledge this profound connection to her I suddenly feel.

If nothing else, I can write. And likely, she will know it.

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