Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Going Home versus Serving Here

I am rereading You Can Go Home Again by Gene Logsdon. I like Logsdon, as he is a very good writer/storyteller and he writes about things close to my heart: farms and agriculture, a sense of centeredness, agricultural sanity in a time of global chaos.

This book is especially good, as it is really two books in one: in the first half, Logsdon essentially gives us an abbreviated biography of his life, moving from a path of Catholic priest to farmer and writer. The second part is a series of short stories about life "on the ramparts", as he says from The Contrary Farmer, including softball, Christmas, and living without power during a winter storm of 1978.

The thing that has moved me most on this rereading (I am saving what is left of the book for my flight home, savoring the joy of discovering Christmas and cornhusking and a Ted Nugent concert again) is actually early in the book, when he talks about realizing that he wants to be a farmer, not a priest. It takes him a period of years to realize that in fact it is okay to feel this - that in the end (my words, not his) he has made an excellent farmer and writer but would have made a lousy priest, as you can never truly be good at what you don't love.

The thought boomeranged back to my own life right now, and where I am in my career. I can assure you, although I tolerate the work I do and in some ways enjoy it more than I used to, I do not "love" my job. In many ways, not all intellectually or careerwise, this move was good - if for no other reason than it is simply that, a job, not a personal crisis welling up from day to day to take over my life and take home with me. Still, there is something within me that looks around at all of this and shrugs my shoulders. Truly, if I could do what I wanted, I would walk away from this career field with nary a second thought.

But in that event, what would that do to the mission I field I am in, as Otis notes in his excellent post here? I'm fighting, as the author of The Cloud of Unknowing might say, the struggle between the active and the contemplative life. We serve at the request of God, not Him at ours. What we imagine for ourselves and what He created us for are two different things - but as always, we life in hopes that all those gifts and yearnings that God has given us are there for a purpose and will be realized - if not here, then in Heaven.

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