Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Four questions to guide us in turbulent times

In early August, I shared the experience of a valuable book I had just completed, Elizabeth Harper Need’s ‘A Sacred Primer: The Essential Guide to Quiet Time and Prayer.’ In book’s introduction, Elizabeth describes how a near death experience, on a sea voyage in a small boat, changed her husband’s life. She writes:

“Jerele reported that the next few minutes were some of the most clarifying of his life. Distinctions became crystal clear: what brought meaning and purpose to life and what did not. What mattered and what did not. Where his allegiance belonged, where it did not. Where he got fulfillment and where he did not?

‘…the experience for Jerele was no midnight conversion, to be forgotten in the morning. Major changes occurred over the months following his return home. He deepened his commitment to a daily spiritual practice. He started teaching a Sunday school class for eleven year olds. And he initiated the process that eventually resulted in his leaving a successful business that he had created to work in a different field in a position that he felt was truer to his life’s purpose. Ten minutes in a boat in dangerous seas. An image in which the heart is opened.

Students frequently experience turbulent times during their four years of college life. This is a time of growth, transition and intense engagement. Some may think this experience of turbulence is only a phase; that it is something one grows out of. The calm façade of adults and ‘elders’ in student’s lives is an illusion.

These past few days have become a time of turbulence and soul searching for me in ways I could never have imagined, even a week ago. It happens to all of us and is, I believe a consequence that flows from the commitment to make a difference and live life fully. I believe this commitment lies deep within every human being, though many try to suppress it. Our challenge is to embrace turbulent times, learn from them, discover what lies deep within ourselves and grow.

But we don’t need turbulent times to pose the questions Jerele asked himself in a moment of truth:

What brings meaning and purpose to my life and what does not?
What matters and what does not?
Where does my allegiance belong and where does it not?
Where do I get fulfillment, and where do I not?


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