A few weeks ago, I was reflecting one the ways that starlings come together in what is called a murmuration. The starlings dance across the sky together and create images of joy as they share in the joys of flying together. The joy of flying together seems to emanate outwards from the starlings as we are captured by the swooping dives they make in the sky. Perhaps, the joy that we feel in watching the starlings is that we get a chance to witness the starlings living into the fullness of what it means to be a starling. We are gifted an opportunity to witness them living out the whole of their being in their sky dances.
I think that when we live into the fullness of who we are as individuals and as a community that we also get to see a glimpse of that same joy in humanity. We are able to witness a person living into the fullness of their humanness because they are living out their lives from a place of joyfulness that flows out of the depth of their being. When a person lives life out of that center, we get to witness the beauty of God’s image as it exists in that person, and we have the opportunity to feel joy in ourselves precisely because we witness the beauty of the fullness of another. It also is how God calls each of us into ministry – through the center of our being that brings us great joy.
Perhaps the greatest summation of this truth comes from Frederick Buechner who says, “vocation is the place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.” When we see someone living out of their deep gladness and that gladness meets the world’s deep need, we truly get to see something awe inspiring. It unfolds almost like a beautifully written symphony that slowly divulges its beauty in our listening. We see a person’s deep gladness meet the world’s deep hunger precisely in that way – slowly, with patient listening, and with amazement at the full compilation that can only be realized and understood at the end of the full piece. In the living out of one’s vocation, we will certainly experience those moments that are in the bass register – perhaps where we feel a bit low and begin to lose hope that our deep gladness is meeting any kind of need much less a deep one. And then, there are those moments that are more like the flute solo that mesmerizes and transforms our listening. It is in the treble register, and we know that the living out of our vocation is terribly important in the world. A deep need is being met through my deep joy, and I know that I am dancing a new step that has never been danced before in the whole of human history.
It is the new dance that we are after in ministry. It is looking at our lives and discovering where it is that I find deep joy in order that I can do that in my ministry in the church. And, like the starlings, it takes each individual member of the church to make up a great body of people that are meeting the world’s deep hunger. It takes each individual bringing her or his deep, centered joy into ministry for us to achieve the acrobatic swoops and dives of the starlings in our own context. It takes each one of us paying attention to our immediate neighbors and celebrating their amazing gifts as we practice our vocations in ministry in community with one another. It takes us being willing to share the joy that flows out of the center of our being with those that are around us no matter how silly others might think we are being.
The symphony of vocation is achieved precisely because we are able to blend together to share an awe inspiring sound that the world has never heard.
What is your deep joy? How can you share it with the world now?
I wonder what deep hunger your deep gladness might meet along the way.