Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A demonimation of one, Re-posted

August approaches and, with it, the three-year anniversary of this blog. Because I am still fitting together my next current post, I am falling back on the expedient re-post. While the two visitors who commented originally are friends and readers - thank you for steadfastness - it may be new to some of you. I know that, as much as I anticipate your new posts, there are not enough hours for me to mosey through your archives. Today is about all any of us can manage today. So I will drag a bit of yesterday into the humid light.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A friend recently told me that she has, once again, official status enabling her to perform marriage ceremonies. She had been ordained in a particular denomination which, over time, became less and less a good match for her liberal, inclusive beliefs and she left that church for equally hands-on work in aspects of social service. She is my model as the first person I ever heard speak of being called to her training and eventual ministry. Since those days a few decades ago, I have come to believe that, if we pay attention, each of us is also called to whatever assignment requires our unique combination of gifts; I believe we each have a ministry.

In no way do I wish by the use of those words to diminish what has been known traditionally among our people as ministry, an over-simplified definition of which might be bringing the citizenry and a specific notion of God together, using biblical text and learned interpretation of God to give comfort in rocky times, steering us all the while along a path of discovering the best versions of our human selves. This is the ideal.

But take the premise that each of us is here, now, in this form to bring comfort or light or a sort of awakening to those we encounter through whatever it is that we do - how is that not a calling? Could a ministry not be art, music, kindness, the ability to listen, empathy, writing, acting, patience...anything which would fall into a category of gift or virtue? To reach others and ease their sadness, suffering, fear and alienation by whatever means sounds like a ministry to me. Do we have to speak OF God to speak God (or what my notion of godliness is) over one another? Isn't Love a fair substitution for a concept that many find unworkable? I have, after serious attempts when I was younger, to acknowledge that organized religion and I are not soul mates. Whatever ways I choose to commune with all that is Divine are my own; they work for me and include vast amounts of laughter, a delight in the absurd, an uncomplicated and unconfused identification of what is magic and miraculous, faith in beauty, goodness and things which somehow turn out for the best, even including bumpy, uncertain middle parts.

It is my unshakable belief that we are here for a reason. If that reason is not to make better the lives of people around us, what other possible reason could there be? I am no theologian; I don't know that there is a name for the handful of truths I cling to but my trust in those truths is sufficient to carry me through today and into tomorrow, endowed with grace that I hope has enlarged since yesterday.

Unless you object openly, I'd like to continue this exploration in the future. For those of us who have reached a certain number of years, we grow more conscious of our days being finite. The greater purpose to be found in them, the greater the joy.

Labels: ministering to each other, Purpose of life

Erin Perry said...

"vast amounts of laughter, a delight in the absurd, an uncomplicated and unconfused identification of what is magic and miraculous, faith in beauty, goodness and things which somehow turn out for the best, even including bumpy, uncertain middle parts" -
I have never heard a more wonderful definition of living a true spiritual life. Having been raised Catholic back in the '50's and '60's - I now stay as far as possible from organized religion - which I find has a lot to do with the people who run it and very little to do with a higher power or human compassion.
Yes, let's hear more!
Erin in Morro Bay
July 6, 2009 7:40 AM
Marta said...

You have certainly found a ministry with your words and artistic way of putting them into paragraphs...Minister Marylinn and her words of wisdom. Thank you.
Marta in Sherman Oaks
July 6, 2009 4:16 PM


Melissa Green said...

So the Band has acquired a Preacher! Dear Marylinn, this is a wonderfully articulated mini-essay that I am positive speaks to many of us--why are we here? What is it I'm supposed to be doing? Is what I'm doing good enough?

Yes, to the ministry of art, music, poetry. Yes to their being gifts to help ease suffering of another. The calling of an artist is every bit as sacred as the calling to the priesthood, perhaps more. From the source of our souls, we can pour our gift out to others, and it becomes tangible, and a gift to them. I also have no dealings with any organized church but respond I hope to all that is divine in the universe, and to use that in my writing, as you do in yours, is my purpose and gift. Thank you for re-posting this, Marylinn. xo

Erin in Morro Bay said...

Rings just as true three years later. Bloglandia has become a richer place with your presence.
Congratulations on this anniversary.

nottinghamburgers said...

Yes I like this post from the archives Marylinn & endorse the sentiment. Thru the course of our lives we each shall inherit & forfeit, forfeit & inherit again. Shall each make a pulpit of our tongues, praise & condemn in equal measures. We shall each spend our days erecting a signature theology which shall require an equal time spent in the act of its dismantling. In the final assessment, the question is are we able to Be what are - not to define what we are, nor surmise what we are, but have we the courage to allow ourselves to Be what we are. & is not the currency or toll required for this task a relinquishing, or a surrender, a leap of faith that the mind can abdicate its controlling tenure & allow the body/organism the autonmy to be.

& is not the only certainty we have, beyond all philosophies & conceptions & definitions, the one certainty is that we exist, that we ARE, & that what we are is each other. & the one question or conundrum arising is what exactly is our duty, intention & responsibility to this fact of our Being?

I saw this quote today which I am informed is an old Greek proverb.

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”

There's that sacrifice again, that relinquishment, that deference. The ministry of gift.

Might we be bold!

God bless & lotsa luv, great food for thought, or mind nutrients, to be found here, as usual.

M x

Marylinn Kelly said...

Melissa - Thank you. As we each have our ministry, the Band will not require, thank goodness, a designated preacher. Very early in my life as a rubber stamper, I found a saying from Leavenworth Jackson, "Surely all this is not without meaning." (Her company still exists - Google her - and so does this stamp.) Believing there is purpose to our existence gives me peace and comfort; all skills valued, all gifts needed. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Erin - Thank you...bloglandia has brought richness to my life beyond anything I could have imagined. Good to have a friend who doesn't mind revisiting an old story. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Miggy - Were we able to be what we are...surrendering notions and conventions that chafe and bind but are clung to regardless...? One thing which assists in the being, which decreases somewhat the inclination to define, is letting each moment become. It is an act of courage.

The quote speaks to me about doing what is, simply, right, something I find easiest to know a moment at a time.

Might we, indeed, be bold, open to discomfort of the unfamiliar. Thank you, you help stir up those nutrients, aerate the soil. xo

Jaye Ramsey Sutter said...

Teaching, I joke, is missionary work. But it is a meaningful joke. Sometimes I mean it like stumbling on a wild tribe, other times I mean it like it is hopeless. I am just a weary ethnographer. Twenty years of teaching and the clock has moved to people who don't know what the New Deal is, what World War II is, or who Gorbachev is.

I love this essay because it reminds me that teaching is a calling and it can ease suffering. There is a church of teaching that feeds the soul. Thank you for your writing because it feeds my soul.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Jaye - Teaching eases suffering, expands the soul and the offers a way out of despair, it transforms...teaching and those who practice it as a life-changing act were among my conversation topics over the past several days. It IS missionary work, not different, either, from an all-volunteer military - the miracle is that we have you and others who sign up to do this job. Thank you, for your words and the willingness it takes to face the wild tribes.

Robert the Skeptic said...

As you know, of course, I am an Atheist. I was not always so and my journey to this point has taken a lifetime.

I often hear people say that we are here, or have been put here, for a reason. I feel differently, I believe we ARE the reason; and that the finality of our life and our consciousness makes the deeds and actions and thoughts of our lives even more precious.

I do love your blog, Marylinn.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Robert - Thank you so much. Your words carry great weight here.

Whatever our beliefs, I hope it is generally recognized as a life-long journey, one during which we evolve and find what rings true for us, not one in which we remain in a fixed position. And it does, I agree, come down to who we are and what we make of our our time in this place.