January – From the Minister

What do you want to be when you grow up? When we were little, we were encouraged to say astronaut, astronomer, dancer, doctor, lawyer, writer, waiter, President, pianist, plumber. Without knowing it, we were rehearsing for all the awkward moments later on when a surface answer will suffice if someone asks, “So what do you do?”

Even if your job—if you have a job—is one you love, still your work is just a partial story; it might say everything or nothing about the state of your soul. But if someone asked you now, not “What do you do?” but the children’s question, “What do you want to be?” your most deeply honest answer might be very different. You might say, simply, “healthy,” depending on what you’ve been through, what you’ve seen, whom you’ve loved or lost. You might say, “I’d like to have my health—mental health, physical health, emotional health.” You might say “safe.” Safe from danger, safe from agonizing self-doubt, safe from the violence of poverty, safe from other violence. You might say “beloved.” You might say “befriended,” worthy of friendship. You might say “content,” as in:

To live content with small means,
to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion,
to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich,
to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly,
to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart,
to hurry never… 

…the words of Unitarian William Henry Channing, more than a century ago. If someone asked not “What do you do?” but “What are you wanting to be?” you might say, “Independent.” or “Interdependent.” “Dependable.” “Forgiven,” or “Forgiving.” You might say, “Calm at the inmost center of my being, peaceful in my conscience, grateful in my spirit.” What is your calling at this moment in your life? What do you want to be as you grow not up, but upward?