This NYTimes article has a little fun with the traditional definition of success, but it really struck a chord with me. So many of us feel stuck by the definition of a successful life (often defined in dollar signs). Why do we have to wait until we retire to have the life we want? How can we change society’s definition of success? Or does that even matter . . . maybe we only have to change our own definition.
What do you want to be when you retire? Is there a way you could be that right now?
This is a five minute audio clip of Bruce Sanguin narrating his loss of faith as a minister, and then how he regained an understanding of his place in the universe during a retreat, and how that changed everything for him.
My writing process is pretty straight-forward: I wait until the last minute to start writing. But (unlike a good number of my students), I do a lot of thinking (brooding, stewing, teeth-gnashing) before I start to write.
The theme for this week’s sermon and blog stymied me. Living the faith. It seems clear, but that was partly the problem. Where is the interpretation? Where is the soul-searching? If, as a writer, my job is to explore ideas and turn over new earth, I was a little stuck.
I decided to talk to a couple of church members that exemplify what it means to live the faith, and by this I mean they seem to live a life serving others and taking care of God’s business. I am leaving names off because these individuals were not comfortable with me writing about them. In fact, when I spoke with them, what they mostly did was talk about all the good things other people do.
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people in order to be noticed by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” Matthew 6:1
Our church (and I would guess this is true for most churches) is full of individuals practicing righteousness in small, everyday ways and also in grand ways. But the common factor is that none of them are asking for recognition. Attending church on Sunday mornings is an important ritual for many Christians. But I invite you to come to church on a weekday, and see who is answering the phone, or watering the outdoor plants, or attending to decorations, or caring for the historical room, or chopping vegetables in preparation for feeding the homeless at Bill’s place. A church lives and breathes all week long with individuals living their faith.
Sometimes there isn’t much interpretation needed. My job this week is less soul-searching and more acknowledging the good works going on all around us. The people doing these tasks don’t think they are doing anything special. They are just doing what needs to be done. They see a job that no one else is doing, and they take care of it. One person I spoke with said he “gets satisfaction from doing something good that day,” even if it is washing some dishes that need done in the church kitchen.