Apart from my first priority to care for my family, what is my purpose? I am uniquely made, so what sets my particular heart alight? What makes it ache? What makes it sing?
As I walk through this spectacular yet broken world, there are 2 things that I long for most – grace and compassion. I want to spend my energy bringing more of those 2 things into the world and encourage others to do the same.
“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” -Frederich Buechner
I find my deep gladness when I meet with the world’s deep hunger for grace and compassion. And so it is there that I will invest whatever skills that I have out of my immense love and appreciation for my fellow human beings.
The song below tells a story that represents the way I long to walk through my days – where giving grace and showing kindness to those in my path is the natural response to the unfathomable grace that has already been given to me.
In my younger years, I had a simplistic and worldly view of success. I saw it as measurable in terms of numbers – money, public acceptance, accolades, followers. That no longer works for me. It was another passage by Buechner that flipped the switch. Any guess who my favorite author is?
From The Hungering Dark:
“As we move around this world and as we act with kindness, perhaps, or with indifference, or with hostility, toward the people we meet, we too are setting the great spider web a-tremble. The life that I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place and time my touch will be felt. Our lives are linked together. No man is an island.”
The success of my life’s work – my relational work, my professional work – is not linear at all! It is connected to the great web of humanity – a web that will last far after my physical life is over. I have no right to know, no way to know, the true measure of my impact.
A social-media-savvy guru can put out baloney to millions of people and not effect a single heart, while one private act of compassion can heal and set a life off in a direction that will eventually change the world. WE DON’T GET TO CONTROL THE OUTCOME!
The only thing that is in my power is how I choose to interact with the present moments I am offered. How do I use my time? How do I interact with the random people that connect with me in this great web of life?
From a professional standpoint, I feel called to work out this purpose in 4 ways:
1.Writing – Sometimes things come into my head and heart that I know I am called to share to the best of my ability. It is up to me to be clear, concise, accessible, encouraging, and engaging through the use of words.
2. Reading – I love to read, and I spend a lot of time doing it. Wise authors change me and say certain things that I could not possibly say better. Absorbing their wisdom and encouraging others to do the same through writing inviting reviews is a particular way I would like to put my writing skills to use.
3. Music – Setting lyrically crafted words to melody is a privilege. In my experience, these things arrive on the doorstep of my mind. It is my job to honor their arrival by working hard to improve in my ability to put them together.
4. Photography – Capturing the astonishing beauty of creation is my favorite hobby. Connecting these images with words of wisdom holds a synergistic power that allows truth to sink deeper into the heart and mind.
This is what I set out to do. I am working out the details. Many days I stumble, or doubt myself, or feel lazy. Some days, I forget about the mystery of the great web and get rattled by the linear thinking set by the world’s standards. And that’s OK. The point is to get back to it as soon as I realize my error. It is all sourced from love- that’s where the grace and compassion originate. If love is my source, the outcome of my work will be exactly what is intended.
From Elizabeth Gilbert’s kick-in-the-butt book Big Magic:
“Do what you love to do, and do it with both seriousness and lightness. At least then you will know that you have tried and that—whatever the outcome—you have traveled a noble path.”
So, my dear handful of readers, what makes your heart ache, and what makes your heart sing? Where are you in this beautiful web of life? Putting this on paper (screen) helped me. I would encourage you to do the same – and to share it. Sharing provides the accountability that encourages us not to give up.