I had the opportunity to attend my high school reunion this past month. It was fun seeing old friends and catching up with the happenings of their lives over the many years we had been apart. When asked what they had done with their time, most people listed their occupations, marriages and children as their accomplishments for the time spent. Of course, there was also laughter and memories of crazy things that were done when we were teenagers together. With a few closer friends the conversation turned to a more intimate discussion of struggles and turmoil that had led to refinement of our inner person.
As I reflect on this reunion, I am aware of how much energy we expend trying to conform and be part of the crowd. This occurred when we were in high school but on some level continues today whenever we are in a social gathering. We all want to feel like we belong but sometimes this is to the detriment of our authentic self.
Additionally, this month the memorial services of two people from my congregation were held. Both left legacies of very different but in many ways similar sorts. One was a lovely lady and philanthropist who brought joy and hope with her many gifts and talents. She could light up a room with her smile. She always sought to share what she had with those who had less. The other was a missionary in many foreign countries who brought his talents for agriculture to help the people live fuller and richer lives. Both of these people not only gave of themselves in material ways but also were examples for us of how to live a life fully by being true to their individual calling in life.
John O’Donohue, in his book Anam Cara, states
“The shape of each soul is different. There is a secret destiny for each person. When you endeavor to repeat what others havedone or force yourself into a preset mold, you betray your individuality. We need to return to solitude within, to find again the dream that lies in the hearth of the soul. We need to feel the dream with the wonder of a child approaching the threshold of discovery. When we rediscover our childlike nature, we enter into a world of gentle possibility.”
What dreams lie within your soul that are waiting to be born and given to the world? What legacy do you want to leave to the world when you pass on? What are you called to do that will allow your soul to be fully alive? Irenaeus, a theologian in the second century said, “The glory of God is the human person fully alive.” We each have one life to live and we are meant to live it in the way that fully expresses the plan our Creator has for us. The world needs each of our possibilities to help it heal and move closer to the kingdom of God.