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Sunday, October 25, 2009

You will know the truth and the truth will make you

odd. Somewhere in a file box in the basement, behind several layers of book boxes and under a pile of still-used winter ski clothes is a damn fine Reformation sermon I preached in about 1990. I know it was good because Krister Stendahl was there that day and he said so. I don't know everything I said but I do know this. Truth is awkward. But good. And when it isn't Flannery O'Connor I'm quoting, the text goes like this, "You will know the truth and the truth will make you free." What is your truth? That is, what is the truth of your life, who you are, what you are, what you are called to do? We avoid that truth sometimes for years because it is awkward or impossible or embarrassing or disturbing. Too bad. Because it does make us free. Free to be the humans really being who we are meant to be. To write if you're a writer. To sew if you're a quilter. To seek and find if you're a headhunter. To disturb if you're a prophet. To love if you're a, well, lover. To guide if you're a mentor. And so it goes. What calls to you? What is it that is in you that needs to come out? Jesus is reported to have said (in one of the Gnostic Gospels) that what is in you that needs to be given voice and form and freedom, and isn't let out to live and be in the light of day -- will destroy you. You don't want that. I don't want that. It's not one thing for all time, or for all one's life. We are called to this, and then to that, in terms of the form of our vocation. The danger is in stifling it. Dangerous for us. And for the world. I remember that day in 1990 not because Krister Stendahl was there but because it was one of those luminous moments of insight I'd had in preparing that sermon, glorious clarity then, about who I was and what I was called into the world to do. It was easier to preach it than live it. I moved into some of that truth quickly and some of it is still in process. And of course, the truth itself is always a horizon, always on before us, drawing us to it. So I'm still in motion. We all are.

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