Monday, June 8, 2009

Finding Your True Calling: The Echo Within

The first thing is to take a look at the beginning of things. The Genesis story of creation, according to Robert Mulholland, according to Robert Benson, presents a picture of God bringing the world into being. But the Hebrew word rendered in English as "creating" is a word that means "speaking." In contrast to the idea of God shaping, sculpting, or manufacturing the world, as we tend to imagine, God spoke it. And not only did God speak the universe alive, but you and me as well.

Benson affirms that each of us has been spoken into being. There was a particular speaking, a particular word that meant Lisa, or Jeff, or Andria. If you want to know who you really are, what you should do in this world: listen for that word. It is still echoing within you.

What I love about Benson's insight is how it runs opposite of popular thought. How, we tend to look for answers about ourselves, outside ourselves. (The line that flashed through my head just now was Supertramp's, "Please tell me who I am.") We want someone to affirm us - a parent, a lover, a therapist even. Failing that, we may seek God, but do so scrunching our eyes at the clouds, looking up, way up, trying to scrutinize the inscrutable. Somewhere out there is some key to my life and everything I'm supposed to do. But really, how can I possibly decipher this distant and untouchable message?

We have removed God so far from our own daily existence, we have no idea how close that echo really is. Within. Benson writes, "It is the voice I depend on to warn me and rebuke me, to cheer me on and to wake me up, to settle me down and to lift me up. I know and trust and count on that voice for many things. I also know that voice sounds a lot like me."

We've become much too afraid to connect to any voice within us. We count any such voice evil, or at least dubious. Learning to listen is our main job, then. But keep in mind: God is mixed up within us.

Yep. I heard a minister say long ago, "God is so involved in our lives, there comes a point we don't know which is God and which is us - and that's a good thing." Intertwined with us. Radiating love and hope and good things. Peaceful, too, is that voice.

Don't worry so much about getting you and God mixed up: just practice listening. Robert Benson says,

"We must learn to listen deeper and deeper, seeking out the true voice within us that echoes the Voice of the One Who made us."
And he presents this gem from Thomas Merton:

"For if I find Him, I will find myself, and if I find myself, I will find Him."

That voice is an echo that never ends, a beginning you'll never get over.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Approaching The Echo Within

When I was twelve I joined the Missionettes - a girls' club in our church. Encouraged by leaders, I read the Bible from cover to cover, memorized verses, memorized specific sequences of verses (such as "The Romans Road"), and garnered badges and praise for being a fast reader. Through the years, growing up a preacher's kid and performing ministry in a non-denominational church, I continued to read the Bible fast and often.

I've stopped doing that.

These days, when I come upon words I love, poetry that nourishes me, or transformational wisdom - such as the Bible - I read as if to savor. I don't want to get through it quickly. I want to take in every crumb, and let it become a part of me. I read painstakingly, absurdly slow.

In such a way, I'm currently reading The Echo Within, by Robert Benson. It's a book that is beautiful-true. I approach the understandings like new fallen snow - one doesn't want to trample. I survey the scene, and take in the moment. I postpone the time when I'll have to make footprints from front door to driveway.

Ah, but that time has come. Presently (don't you love the word presently?) I'll be sharing the book, and letting others in on the conversation.