My favorite quote thus far comes from Anouk, the young, mystical child of Chocolat who is now a moody, insightful t'ween, who proclaims: "I'd rather be a freak than a clone!" Ain't that the truth on so many levels?!?
Today I had the second in a series of long conversations with a young woman who has been dancing with a calling to ministry all of her life. Sometimes she has been enchanted by a love that has cherished her since before there was time. At other times, this love has felt frightening or even freakish. But now, after more than a decade of avoiding this song, she has returned to sing it and tells me it feels like coming home. She, too, would rather be a freak than a clone - especially when it comes to heeding the Spirit. I couldn't help but recall the chorus of "Softly and Tenderly" that whispers: Come home, come home, ye who are weary, come home. Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, calling O sinner, come home.
It is no accident, I think, that she first found a safe place beyond judgment among us by singing in our band and choir. She tells me that for all the years of work she has done after she seminary and avoiding her calling, she has always spoken of herself a minister: "Others call me the group mother, but I am really their chaplain." Now she is owning the invitation to go deeper and I am honored to be a companion with her on this part of the journey towards ordination.
The poet, Michael Blumenthal, also struggled through years of unsatisfying jobs that always ended up in poems. In "A Man Lost by A River," he brings this strange, healing quest for holiness into focus for me in a satisfying way.
There is a voice inside the body.
There is a voice and a music,
a throbbing, four-chambered pear
that wants to be heard, that sits
alone by the river with its mandolin
and its torn coat, and sings
for whomever will listen
a song that no one wants to hear.
But sometimes, lost,
on his way to somewhere significant,
a man in a long coat, carrying
a briefcase, wanders into the forest.
He hears the voice and the mandolin,
he sees the thrush and the dandelion,
and he feels the mist rise over the river.
And his life is never the same,
for having been lost –
for having strayed from the path of his routine,
for no good reason.
Today I give thanks for making certain that my schedule was open enough so that we could get lost by this river together for a while. It is better to be a freak than a clone, indeed!