The end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started,
And to know the place for the first time.
This has been a year of intense spiritual exploration and discernment for me, and as I continue to walk the road on which I am walking, the feeling is that of a homecoming—a sort of discovery process of myself that is both new and old. This past year, my personal exploration and “journey home” (think Luke 15) has included body, mind, and soul.
We were on the tram lift in Cape Town heading up to the top of Table Mountain when Mary Pandiani and I struck up a conversation about my research. Then, she invited me to share my personal spiritual and vocational story. She expressed such gratitude and a sense that there has been a big part of my life story that has been kept hidden, and that is very useful for God’s project of healing of the world. She invited me into a deep place of authenticity, where I began to accept the likelihood that God is calling me to a different vocational space that has occupied my time and attention for the past fifteen years. She helped me to discover the constraints that suburban church ministry has been placing on my soul’s journey to be who God made me to be. Essentially, she invited me to become the wounded healer that is truly who I am because of my story and my personality profile.
The PLDP was one of the most enriching experiences of my entire formal educational journey. I learned much about myself and my passions and my loves and my multiple vocations. This is one of the most exciting parts of the program for me—to create a spiritual and vocational roadmap or compass that points me in a direction that is authentic, right, and good for who I am. Accepting my limitations and re-prioritizing my family has been one of the gifts of this process, for which I am very grateful.
The focus of my research at the intersection of xenophobia and spirituality has led me into readings that opened me up to new vocational opportunities. I find myself both invigorated by the readings that Jason has assigned, as well as what I have been reading for my research proposal, as well as bored in my job. This past year, with the doctoral program being one strong contribution, has deepened both my passion and my frustration – my longing for racial reconciliation and integration in our society, and my longing for children of under-resourced families to find pathways to flourish in my life.
Now that I have said “yes” to leave my post as Senior Pastor of John Knox Presbyterian Church to serve as Executive Director of my family’s foundation, I’m looking at all these readings with a new context in mind. Leadership in a 60 year old church is quite different than leadership for a social entrepreneur start-up organization. Off the top of my head, I can say that the readings from Jason have instilled in me a desire to be a “faithful presence” in our new space, to carve time each day for “deep work,” to be mindful of my consumer impulses around church, and to keep my spirituality and leadership integrated with one another.
I find myself grateful for having joined this cohort, and grateful that this doctoral program is helping me on my journey to return “home.”