A Letter from the Executive Director
During opening night of the recent CVN conference, I invited attendees to pay attention to the relationship between calling and desire, especially regarding service. I now invite you to consider how being called by God and having your own desires relate. There is power in that intersection, even if it’s hard to describe. Moreover, fully understanding that place is not as important as learning how to be there and be aware.
My invitation was an attempt to help attendees name something personal that they could focus on during the conference. It was a chance to welcome tension or mystery that might teach us more about God, self, and service.
I love what Ronald Rolheiser says about desire: “Desire can show itself as aching pain or delicious hope…(and) Spirituality is about what we do with desire.” (The Holy Longing)
When we name a desire and invite God in, we should expect God to meet us. In Advent, our naming – and our doing – should be even bigger. Advent is about expectation. It is a chance to open and prepare more boldly for God’s presence. That is important even if we do not know exactly how to pray or wait. Our desire is what matters. Letting others be part of that can also be transformative. Eden provides just one example of how your ministry is part of that.
Eden was a Salesian Lay Missionary serving in a girl’s orphanage in Bolivia. At one point she began to doubt the power of her mostly practical role. She wondered if she was “doing mission well” because she “wasn’t having deep conversations that allowed her to serve the girls spiritually.” But her desire – and her waiting – eventually bore fruit. She was able to rejoice when God met here in the way she needed, through the words of a child:
‘Eden, you want me, right? You wanted me here with you. Right?’
‘Of course, of course,’ I told her. ‘I love you, and I want you here.’
How could I ever have thought of my job as ‘purely practical?’ As I lay in my bed, listening to the crickets, toads and motorcycles that characterize a Bolivian night, I reflected on why I was really here. Jesus sent his disciples to bring the good news that we are redeemed, we are loved, we are wanted. It is our job as Christians to teach others about God’s love by modeling it for the people we serve.
Sometimes a conference focusing on effectiveness can open us to God and self. But sometimes we need reminding that acting on desire can only do so much. Sometimes we must wait – and trust that God will meet us where we most need to be met, when the time is right.
This Advent, name your hopes and desires. Act on them if you can. But most importantly, expect God to act in ways that make you laugh or cry about your limited understanding. Pray for readiness to know – to truly know – that you are wanted more than you can imagine. That you are doing the journey well. Perhaps that will help you understand calling and desire in a deeper, more personal way.
With you in service,