A life of meaning and purpose? A sense of calling? Well, yes, those questions and wanderings are what the last 4 years have illuminated for many of us, especially those involved in the Lilly Endowment Inc. initiative: Lives of meaning and purpose. Thanks in part to Kathleen Cahalan’s lovely book The Stories We Live, the scales have fallen from my eyes, so to speak. During an unusually uncertain and mysterious season of life, my heart has been cracked open repeatedly. I now realize God was patiently waiting all along. It has not been an easy journey, especially as life events have been difficult to weather and endure. There have been too many moments of inner wrestling to count, even in recent days. Reflecting upon what has unfolded over the course of a lifetime, only now do I dimly see how many times God has been trying to get my attention. How many countless souls throughout humanity’s history have awakened to this? Many times, I was unaware. Sometimes I ran in the other direction. Yet, here I am, writing this narrative because this experience, this story, shimmers for me.
The stories graciously shared with us throughout the BFL/VEA journey affirm a similar experience. There are those of us who practiced our religion by showing up at church on Sunday then simply returned to our careers and other roles for the majority of the week. Prayer was not something practiced regularly. A daily rendezvous with The Divine? Isn’t such a practice for those who have taken vows? Now here I am, surrounded by a sense of community that spans many time zones. Some of us might feel we live in the “monastery of the world” as James Finley has observed. How did this happen? For me and countless others, it seemed to happen one relationship at a time. It has unfolded in the sacred moments of ordinary life, day by day.
As the BFL/VEA Initiative enters its 5th and final year with generous funding by the Lilly Endowment Inc., the stories heard and shared by this evolving sense of fellowship are abundant and sometimes familiar. God has never stopped showing up for all God’s Children. Currently, our Core Leadership is reading master teacher Verna Dozier’s The Dream of God: A Call to Return, a beautiful and thought-provoking book. While writing this book, Ms. Dozier was asked, “What is your book about?” The answer emerges on every page.
So, I ask each of you reading this; What stories shimmer for you? What is your book about? How fascinating it is and will continue to be….to listen and to read your stories!
Rodney Dean – 3/1/2022