Certainty, Calling, & Words

Certainty, Calling, & Words

People have short and long memories.

We must always remind ourselves of promises made, promise that should be kept. We must remind ourselves what God has done, what God has asked of us. Yet we hold on to images, joys, and bitterness—their identities and characters burrowed into our consciousness. It’s why things like journaling and poetry are so important—they’re ledgers of our promises, failures, victories, connections.

This is what you are and where you are today. These words help you remember why you’ve become what you are. You can always go back and see, at least a little. Come close to remembering right.

And when you go back, you can often see how uncertain you—and your guesswork decisions—were. We treat certainty like it’s a good, attainable thing when it’s more like a sickness. Where does certainty lead us in the end? We walk toward something we’re convinced is there, only to see its elusive tail slink away.

The business of finding one’s self, meaning, and identity and trusting to God the reconciliation of your disjointedness has little to do with being certain. We walk by faith and not by sight. When we find true faith, we find what we’re looking for: peace. Peace doesn’t mean resolution—it means abiding, acceptance, wisdom, love in the erratic disarray of incompleteness. Peace comes to push us toward something close to whole.

Rightness and wrongness—what so many people fixate upon—are just side items to being complete: we grow and change and evolve—move inward to shadowed country, spaces of stillness where silence can inhabit us, bring out the truths of the way we live and what we’re called to be, what we’re becoming. Actions to follow a calling can take on innumerable steps toward.

Our words are really about being, and being together, because creating together cultivates community. We’re all walking toward one another, not as strangers or aliens, but as brilliant vessels, tuning forks humming together, leaves on one tree, flickering.

We enter the community of God through the motions of our small lives—the motivations given by God, the callings we’re all trying to clarify.

Things that divide our communities are those things that move us from wholeness with one another, things not of God, polarizing blasts of chaos—things that divide, deconstruct, damage—these are the things opposite the Incarnation.

It isn’t a new idea to say that sin is ultimately violence, since it destroys the beauty of community in favor of satisfying the self—sin annihilates, never incarnates. Poetry can be an act of incarnation, of making God manifest in the world. The Prophets are examples to us—enacting language’s evocative calamity—so powerful is their message that they must speak in poems. Mary—the mother of Jesus—is another. She sings a song upon accepting God into her being. Her faith can only be rendered as poetry.

When something important must be said, poetry carries the emotional freight, exposes our evils as they are, champions grace, beauty, goodness, does justice to our experience and bears witness to what we are.  Poetry helps us flesh out the details of what we’re trying to become.

Calling always moves outside the self, even if it turns into the self. Think of the monastic life: men and women called to solitude—which is different than isolation—and acting outwardly in prayer and penitence for the world. These practices bring them together, and—even in separation from the daily grind of their world—connect them to the larger community of us, the community of believers.

So here we are at wholeness: things in the world that God so loved growing together, moving toward being complete together. Even God comes to live with us, turning into a child who would eventually grow to kill himself in a ultimate act of sacrificial creation.

It’s about wholeness for all of us—some of us will choose it now, others will choose it later. Each moment is another chance to live in God, to begin again. This is the life of answering God’s call: we try our best to choose wholeness, enact grace in the world. We live in such a way that the gap between God and creation is closed.

Reach out to see if you can feel a hand that’s waiting to touch your own.

Dave Harrity
about Dave Harrity

Dave Harrity is the founder and director of Antler and author of the book "Making Manifest: On Faith, Creativity, and the Kingdom at Hand" (April 2013, Seedbed)—a book of meditations and writing exercises designed to foster creative approaches to community building, peacemaking, and spiritual formation. He travels the country conducting workshops on faith and imagination.

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  1. January 10, 2013 at 10:38 am

    “Peace comes to push us toward something close to whole.” This statement recalls what I read in Kempis’s Imitation of Christ this morning: “He to whom all things are one, he who reduceth all things to one, and seeth all things in one; may enjoy a quiet mind, and remain peaceable in God.” I love it when the Spirit brings words and ideas together in the same day. And Harrity is the new Kempis!

  2. January 10, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    lol… no pressure :-)

    but seriously excellent quote. i think that’s what i’m writing toward. but far less awesome!

  3. January 16, 2013 at 7:31 am

    On what do you base your statement that we are all walking toward one another? I don’t see this at all. Seems most people are trying to get through the day and pay their bills.

    We are not all trying to clarify “callings.” Is your work only addressed to Christians? I mean no disrespect, but it seems so much of the above isn’t applicable to the majority. Are you saying that, given time, all will seek the same thing?

    • January 16, 2013 at 10:27 am

      sondra, thanks for your post here–i appreciate being challenged!

      but i want to begin by saying a few things: 1) i’m in (as i believe we all are–yes, EVERYONE) a process of becoming–i am not the same person i was when i began typing this, and will not be the same person when i’m through. 2) what i’m about to write is in no way comprehensive and is based around what i’m thinking, studying, contemplating, and trying to understand in this season of my life and 3) what i say should be treated as an open-handed invitation, not an admonishment, so please read the following sentences with that in mind–leaning toward an exploratory discussion rather than a combative retort. we lose some much when communicating digitally.

      i suppose that this specific post was written with christians in mind, but i don’t believe it is exclusively for christians. if what i’ve put forward resembles wisdom in any way, then it’s open to anyone who’d like to read it. and that’s what i strive to do. god knows i don’t come near the mark enough.

      to be open about it, i do believe that god is drawing all of creation toward god’s self, and–because of that draw–toward one another. by our actions, practices, and choices we choose to move with that subtle current or move against it. we either reconcile or live in a state of separation. here are some verses in christian scripture (if you’d like to look them up) that support that position: colossians 1:20, 2 corinthians 5:18-20, and romans 8:28. in the gospel of john 12:32 (and i willingly admit that it’s least like the other three in it’s mystical tone and sweeping language and supernatural narrative), jesus says he will draw all people to himself upon being lifted from the earth.

      whether or not these things are literal matters little, i think. and whether believer, agnostic, atheist, or otherwise matters little as well. human beings are best of when they’re working toward the implications of what i see happening in the scriptures above, and/or the ideas/practices i put forth in the post (not made up by me, but derived from people, like tania’s thoughts on kempis, who are far more erudite, respected, and brilliant than me). the implications of all this seem clear: we are to move toward (and in fact are moving toward, however incrementally) communion and community. that may not be the entirety of the ideas, but it’s certainly a part of our lives, bills and other mundanities aside.

      these charges of community and communion are easier for some to live out than others. and, depending on your own positions, have more or less value than other things going on in your life. this is where the idea of calling comes in. maybe a better word would even be ‘vocation’–from ‘voce’ meaning voice.

      our vocations/callings are things that need to be fleshed out by our daily practices. can you spend your whole life vapidly ignoring those things things that lead to your own flourishing and the flourishing of others, endorsing and perpetuating illusions? absolutely. but does that change the current of the river you live in? no. it might make the river more or less ‘enjoyable’ for others–for ourselves–but it doesn’t change the fact that the river itself is moving. i don’t think it could.

      will the world go on without your voice in it? without my voice in it? most certainly. will the incarnations of our voices in the world help create reconciliation? well, i suppose that depends on what you’re trying to add.

      thoughts on any of this? did i answer your questions?

  4. January 17, 2013 at 7:33 am

    I appreciate your thoughts and the time it took to write them. It is a very patient answer. I am particularly sensitive to the words all, our and we in such writings, so I just wanted to clarify your intended audience. But you’re right—wisdom can be appreciated and absorbed by “all.”

    • January 17, 2013 at 10:44 am

      thanks sondra! hope the explanation was helpful! i understand your trepidation. :-)

  5. January 17, 2013 at 9:04 am

    I loved this piece, Dave. Lots to think about.

    Just sent this quote to a friend who’s not doing so well: “Peace doesn’t mean resolution—it means abiding, acceptance, wisdom, love in the erratic disarray of incompleteness. Peace comes to push us toward something close to whole.”

    • January 17, 2013 at 10:43 am

      thanks diane! your kindness means much! and i hope whatever it is i’ve made helps your friend! peace to you and yours!

  6. January 25, 2013 at 1:57 am

    Is it necessary to do these three things or experience these things, or experience these together? Can you actually just take one and separate them from the other?

    • January 29, 2013 at 1:20 pm

      thx for commenting! but i wonder, can you clarify your question a little? what exactly are you asking?

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