Doing the Work to Find Our Work, Our Life

Our life is uniquely designed to enable us to be who we are. You have heard that, “Everything happens for a reason.” Well, the reason is to enable us to be who we are. You have also heard, “Everything is grist for the mill.” Well, we are milling ourselves. We are milling maturity. Grace. Compassion. Character. Qualities and values at the heart of life and being.

Or not.

We do not have to cooperate with our life’s invitation. We have ideas of our own about what is worth living for, and how our life should be. This is a problem. How do we get ourselves together with our life’s need of us?

The problem has different facets. There is the life that is our life to live, the life that exhibits and expresses the qualities and character, interests and abilities, aptitudes and inclinations—the combination of which is unique to us, sets us apart from everyone else, and makes us an individual who has never been, or will be. This is one aspect of how things are.

There is the life we wish were ours to live—the life of our dreams and happy fantasies, desires and ambitions, aims and goals. This is another aspect of how things are.

There is the life thrust upon us by situation and circumstance, by the nature and conditions of our living. Perhaps, we are born into poverty, or into wealth and privilege. Or, perhaps we are greeted by war, desolation, famine and suffering. Our life might be restricted in any number of ways—the expectations of our family, or the requirements of our caste, or the limitations of our available resources or physical, or mental, abilities… All of these are other aspects of how things are.

There is what we do to pay the bills, to hold body and soul together, to make it from one day to the next. There are the obligations, duties and responsibilities that come with meeting the requirements of living. These are other aspects of how things are.

All of this is how things are, and how things also are—and that is how things are.

We have to find our way through all of this to meaning and purpose, fulfillment and wellbeing. Where lies that path?

My bias is to say we have the best chance of achieving ends worthy of us if we throw in with what we might call heart and soul—with the invisible, unknown, unconscious (in the sense that we are not conscious of it) world of spiritual reality—aligning ourselves with its sense of what needs to be done, and following its lead throughout our life.

How to do that should be the focus of church and culture. Until that happens, we have to assume the responsibility of finding our own way there. Help is available, particularly from Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, artists, poets, and others who have found the way of communing with the invisible world—including Parker Palmer, Robert Johnson, Helen Luke, Marie-Louise von Franz, Ann Weiser Cornell, Mary Caroline Richards, Charlotte Joko Beck and Rachel Naomi Remen.

We also know more than we know we know, and have only to make time—and find a place—for Dreamtime walkabouts, listening to our dreams, feeling our feelings, and opening ourselves to the intuitive, instinctive guidance within. Everybody has the same access to the Invisible World. Anybody can perceive what is there for all to see, hear, know and understand. But, it takes being open to possibilities we often refuse to consider.

Published by jimwdollar

I'm retired, and still finding my way--but now, I don't have to pretend that I know what I'm doing. I retired after 40.5 years as a minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, serving churches in Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. I graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Austin, Texas, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. My wife, Judy, and I have three daughters and five granddaughters within about twenty minutes from where we live--and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.

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