I have not felt motivation to write lately, or frankly, to do much of anything. I am struggling some with post-quarantine re-entry and while I am thankful to have the vaccine and some safety to “move about the cabin” of the world, I am not feeling quite myself in terms of being with people. I am thankful for my people who have, and who are, hanging in there with me while I go through this season.
I have been trying to be intentional about showing gratitude, even (or maybe especially) in this season and one of the things that brings me joy and helps me find purpose is working with students. I am grateful for a way to earn a living and live out my calling in the same context.
Frederick Buechner, Presbyterian minister and author, says that “the place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet”. I believe God has called me to this place of working with students and helping them learn to engage with the world and its needs. This calling into higher education is an evolution from my initial calling into social work practice, which is a call I still hear and still heed.
I have also been hearing another call in the past few years, to speak out, in little ways and large ways, about oppression and racism. Of all my callings, this is probably the hardest one for me to feel confident in and I wonder… maybe I am not supposed to be fully confident as my discomfiture keeps me humble.
I have the honor and privilege of having a good many conversations with students about their callings (even if they use different words) and I have a gracious plenty resources on the topic. But of all the ones I have, the two I refer to the most and the two I keep coming back to are this one by Buechner, and the piece by Vincent Harding (theologian, leader in the Civil Rights movement, father, teacher, etc) entitled, simply, “I hear them calling”.
In this piece, Harding recounts the voices that have shaped him over the years: his family, the church of his childhood, his teachers, the media, the voices of his ancestors. His calling to be in the Movement made him realize how little he knew of history. His calling to be a husband and father transformed him. Throughout his life he continued to heed the call of the creation of the beloved community, and he “heard voices more loudly than ever before”.
Me, a white southern woman “of a certain age”, raised to be polite, in a faith tradition that has not historically heard the voices of women….I feel an unlikely candidate to speak out against racism and oppression. But, as Harding said repeatedly “callings are strange things”.
In my not-actively-writing phase, I have been jotting down ideas that I want to capture about this calling, and how it is showing up in my teaching and in my family life and other relationships. Hopefully, I will eventually get to writing them.
Here’s something: we finally finished our family read aloud of Stamped: Racism, Anti Racism and You. This is geared toward middle schoolers but unless you are a very intentional student of all (and I mean ALL ) of the world’s and US history there will be learning for all ages in this book. We had some good conversations that stemmed from it, and also some periods of discomfort and anger: as we should.