Unpacking Memories of My Discernment
After simple profession, I moved out of our novitiate in upstate New York and down to Washington DC to start studies in theology. Though I arrived a few months ago, somehow I am still working on cleaning and unpacking. It seems that my process is especially slow because I reminisce as I do it. Today, I found an old journal entry that I wrote during my discernment process before entering religious life and I had flash backs of all the doubts as I began to get serious about my vocation. At the time, I really wanted to reach a destination, to feel like that sense of arrival. It was like being at the end of a long day’s journey wanting to rest so badly to be told, “Not yet, keep going.”
My journal is normally where much of my praying happens and I take my angst to task, but this entry was completely different. Frustration and angst were every where, but I think this was the first time I accepted that I wasn’t in control. I had made a mess out of my life, and here I was standing in the middle of metaphorical pottery shards. My family and I were never really close and the friendships that I thought I could lean on were shaky. The stability I found was in school and I traded that in to run after dreams of being a big-time dancer and choreographer in Los Angeles. I was just barely twenty years old at the time and the world was limitless opportunity.
Over a period of a couple of years I hopped from contract to contract and couch to couch, I was a homeless romantic without a clue. Reflecting back on all of this, I was blessed. I met some unsavory characters, and at times ended up in dangerous situations, but through it all, I was kept safe. I thought I caught a break when I landed a job as a restaurant manager that promised steady income that would work with my job as a show designer at a local high school. God let me do it, but why? Maybe I needed to tire myself out before I would really listen.
There were two things that I was running from: God and his plan for my life. I tried to negotiate with the Great Negotiator for a long time proposing my ideas about being a dancer or even a personal trainer only to hear, “Not yet, keep going.” It has been ten or eleven years since, and now I can see that I had something to prove at twenty. My problem is that I had no clue! I threw myself completely into my two jobs while walking away from the Church. I went to New Age, Buddhism, and eventually Judaism to find a new spiritual life.
It was Judaism that brought me to a stop. The intellectual tradition and history really appealed to me, but hearing Genesis chanted in Hebrew brought me to tears. What did I do? At this point, I was twenty-three needed to make a commitment, so I became Jewish. I dug in and told myself that this was it. The intention was sincere but I became restless within a couple years. I went to Shabbat services weekly, offered my prayers daily, and my home was becoming more kosher. The restlessness grew and I didn’t feel like I was home yet. Rather, it was like I was trying to go home, but I woke up only to discover I was in my neighbors house. I began to pray and I asked God to help me understand why I felt like this. My prayers were returned with, “Not yet, keep going.” That guy who shakes his fist at the sky? That was me.
[Next…a prayer of surrender]