Being and Becoming
By Brittany Longsdorf of Lewiston, ME, USA
Praise the LORD, all you nations!
Extol him, all you peoples!
For great is his steadfast love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
Praise the LORD! -Psalm 117
I serve as a multi-faith college chaplain and this past spring I co-facilitated a small, seniors-only gathering entitled “Being and Becoming.” Over eggplant pizza and tea we talked about discerning calling and vocation, asked questions about what makes work meaningful, and discussed how we can shape our lives with purpose.
About halfway through our process, we asked the students to close their eyes and imagine a moment when they felt strongly, “I see what needs to be done, and I am the one to do it.” Then they were to elaborate on what revelations came to them.
I had high hopes that they would see within themselves extraordinary things: I can feed the hungry! I can paint a masterpiece! I can solve the problems of pollution! I can bring clean water to those in need! Instead, one student talked about seeing dangerous icicles dangling off a dormitory in the depths of the Maine winter and how she found a broom to knock them down before they injured anyone. Another student shared how he had seen spilled spaghetti in a shared common room and cleaned it up without anyone looking. Another shared how he liked to set up and tear down chairs and tables for events, especially when no one else wanted to.
These small gestures, these seemingly ordinary kindnesses, began to give these students insights into deeper callings. Rather than thinking of “doing what needs to be done” in extravagant, superhero-esque ways, they began to realize through these ordinary moments that they felt purpose and rootedness in helping others, in working with their hands, and in caring for the safety and welfare of their community. They learned that fulfillment could be found even in tedious, behind-the-scenes work.
I was reminded of the presence of the sacred in every mundane moment of our lives. Even our most perfunctory inklings can shed insight into the depths of our soul’s purpose as we learn to be and become.
“Awake, my soul!” (Psalm 57:8 NRSV)
The Prayer of the Heart
Early Christian disciples desired to take seriously the scripture mandate to pray “without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The prayer of the heart invites us to pray “continuously” by repeating and returning to a prayer phrase planted for intentional reflection and deepening. Choose a word or phrase (from scripture, hymnody, or personal reflection) that has meaning for you. The Jesus Prayer is one form of the prayer of the heart: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me” (Luke 18:35-43). Invite this simple phrase to repeat in your heart throughout the day, awakening your soul to God’s presence.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.