I had a job interview the other day and it was pretty funny. In part because I hadn’t had a kind of sit-down, respond to these very job-interviewy questions situation in some time. I found myself wanting to respond to pretty much every inquiry with some version of “Lady, I’m almost 54 years old …”
I can do pretty much anything.
I’m not going to even bother taking a look at a job I don’t think I would enjoy … I’m too old for that.
No, I have no problem working to solve personality conflicts … I’m almost 54 years old.
It felt funny, when I walked out, exiting an interview in my little interview outfit. First I ran into someone I know and we had a nice conversation. Then I got in my car to drive a few hours south for a funeral, so I had some time to think about the whole thing: the weird culture that’s perpetuated in most corporate environments; the “we do this because this is how it’s done” mindset, all the rules and regulations governing the work life of the people there. The plastic flowers, phony artwork, windows always closed world.
I didn’t really want the job, but I keep feeling like I should get a job, be more practical, live a more traditional life, that sort of thing. The universe seems to have other ideas for me, though, because it has yet to hand me a job like that one; a few days later, when I turned my phone back on after the post-funeral lunch, I listened to the message from the woman who interviewed me telling me she had offered the job to someone else. I was partly deflated and partly relieved.
Yesterday I spent some time sitting and talking with a gentleman named Peter who had come to visit someone in our little town from Zambia, where he and his wife run a school for disabled children. I had gotten to know him a bit when he spoke in church on Sunday: one of fourteen boys; no father present when he was growing up; shot in the leg while committing a crime; in the hospital a change of the molecules of his heart and a commitment to serve the world. Peter showed me a couple of videos of the work they do there, the people they serve, the “least of my brothers,” that sort of thing. I found my heart racing, tears welling up. That is were I want to be, I thought to myself, rght there, with those kids.
It’s not a job, per se, but all of this truly begs the question … how do we live our lives? And for me it goes down into the subterranean layers of things … how do we live our lives after we have fallen in love with God and can’t not see God in all of this madness?
Nothing is really the same after something like that is embedded beneath your skin and in your heart: Infinite love is planted within humans and all of creation. Everything is attracted to everything: life is attracted to life; love is attracted to love; God in you is attracted to God in everyone and everything else. This is what it means for everything to be created in the image of God. God placed this alluring attraction of life toward life in everything that God created.
That’s Richard Rohr talking about this life: Once we allow the entire universe to become alive for us, we are living in an enchanted world. Nothing is meaningless; nothing can be dismissed. It's all whirling with the same beauty, the same radiance.
I mean, come on, what do we do with that? How do we live with that idea, that sense of things and still … sit through a job interview? In a room full of fake flowers?
The only thing I can do now, at my advanced age, is pay attention to the responses I have to the things that are presented. This is what we call a gut feeling. After the interview I felt a certain sense of dread at the prospect of going to work every day of the week inside a building.
I felt a certain sense of elation imagining myself hugging those children in wheelchairs and cheering them on in their victories.
I have struggled with this for a long time now, how to live a life of service, of presence, of ministry, and how to pay the bills, too. I don’t have it figured out yet. It has been, however, the deep and abiding generosity of friends and family that has allowed me to keep doing the things I love doing: being present for people in their time of need, walking with people through dying and death, writing about all of it. The accepting of that generosity has been part of the story for me. There is nothing more humbling than needing help and nothing more light-filled than the impulse of people in this world to give help, to offer what they have. It’s a full-circle act of love and a very important part of the human journey.
Fifty-four on Sunday and I’m still trying to make sense of it all. There is no wisdom-marinated re-cap coming from Camp Melissa this year. I’m tired of the rain, I keep saying that my love affair with Vermont has ended and maybe it’s so. Julianne and I had a nice chat late last night in which we started scheming about running away, to Mexico, Denmark, Switzerland. We were only half-joking.
It is absolutely true that by this stage of life one most certainly should be able to do pretty much anything, and one should … do the things that bring actual joy and satisfaction, even if it’s risky, even if it makes no sense, even if it goes against everything your parents told you you should do and everything the world deems important or worthwhile or necessary. I know a bunch of people who got sick and died in their 60s. Part of me wonders about the environment, the possibility of toxic build-up in our bodies; the possibility that plain old living is killing us. I don’t assume I have another twenty or even ten years left. I don’t assume much of anything in regards to how much time we get to do this thing and, too, I’m pretty sure that the ones who have the most trouble leaving here, accepting the idea of their own death, are the ones who lived their lives in a way that didn’t feel authentic. We ain’t got forever and our very own heart knows how we should live. Pay attention to the resistance; pay attention to the tears.
I have a feeling you won’t find me inside any buildings, especially not ones with plastic flower arrangements. No, if I had to guess I would say that the chances are far greater that you’ll find me on the dusty fields of Zambia, playing a version of soccer with kids who walk with crutches, or wherever the next big hurricane hits, sitting with someone who has lost everything. I seem to have been born with a compass inside that sets me in the direction of pain and hardship and I’m learning to be OK with that. I’m not really sure what else I’m supposed to do with myself in this radiant and infinitely enchanting dance of life.
Thank you, all of you, for all of the love all these years. xomo