How many reminders does one need that life is meant to be lived with depth and passion? I had four. Four reminders in one week.
Monday night, our church hosted a book signing party for our friend Kim Langley, whose wonderful book, Send My Roots Rain (a poetry companion for the grief journey), was just published. People mingled afterwards and I met a woman who works with both cancer patients and hospice patients. She said to me, “My days are filled with meaningful conversations. The people I work with – they don’t waste time on chit-chat; they go deep and they go there fast. I now find I have little tolerance or time for small talk, though; it’s almost an occupational hazard.” Her words resonated with me. Maybe it’s because I’m an introvert, maybe it’s my Enneagram number, maybe it’s my profession, but I too crave and value conversations of substance.
Tuesday morning, I received word that Greg had died the night before. Greg was an active member of a close-knit youth group at the church I served previously. Greg turned 40 last summer and was a newlywed, having only married his husband this winter. At his memorial service Saturday, several members of that youth group were in attendance; the bond they’d formed remained strong. Emily drove in from New York City to play her harp; David played a jazzy “Amazing Grace” on the saxophone; both were heartfelt gifts to the friend with whom they’d shared formative years and experiences. We paid tribute to Greg and to the gift of communities that create the room for us to share our stories and vulnerabilities with one another, beyond the surface level.
During Greg’s memorial service, I learned the news that Rachel Held Evans had died at age 37, leaving behind not only a beloved family but what one person has described as “a gigantic, building-less church of struggling, sometimes cynical, but ultimately hopeful believers…” Her impact and body of work is impressive – staggering, really.
And in the midst of all of this, my husband and I contemplate a message from a dear friend. He writes to several friends and acquaintances that he has decided to give up an avocation to which he has devoted himself for 50 years – since he was a teenager. Giving up pursuit of this talent will mean leaving several groups. He isn’t angry nor is he defensive, but he is resolute. It’s clear that something else is tugging at him. He’s making space in his life to pursue another calling. I have loved and appreciated his sharing of this particular God-given gift, but I’m excited to see what’s next for him; it’s clearly important.
How do you live with a sense of urgency but not frenzy? In a world full of distraction, how do you live with purpose?
The writer Annie Dillard puts it this way: “We can live any way we want. People take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience – even of silence – by choice. The thing is to stalk your calling in a certain skilled and supple way…I think it would be well, and proper, and obedient, and pure, to grasp your one necessity and not let it go…”