Theology didn’t help me, although it really wasn’t theology’s fault. I belong to a church, and that church has a theological tradition, as all churches inevitably do. I have no desire to deny any of it. But I also have no desire to dispute any of it, to wrestle with it, to examine the warp and the weft of the tightly woven threads of a belief system. I have enough trouble not wanting to rip the entire, intolerable garment from my body.
Whitman's dramatic story, of overcoming drug addiction, is compelling reading. And he writes of something that I've recognized, in recent months, about that frequent disconnect between the beautiful life of the mind and the real life we're called to: that gritty, noisy, aggravating daily circus (at least so it is here) that keeps calling us to Him, in a baffling way, in all our inability. If those beautiful languages and books and lofty thoughts aren't helping that, they're in the way.
This morning I read a passage from Fr. Giussani's Il miracolo dell'ospitalità. It is a collection of dialogues with members of the "Welcoming Families" of Communion and Liberation. These families have taken in children, not their own, who needed homes. Some of the kids have severe handicaps. In some cases, they welcomed the incapacitated (e.g. drug-addicted etc.) parents as well. These particular vocations arose out of their encounter with Christ in the movement, and not first as a charitable enterprise, and they develop over time, day by day, morning to night, in facing the others of their household.
Giussani answers a person who spoke about his vocation as coming from an unconscious step, in other words, it was placed in front of him, unasked: "The vocation comes from God, wanted or unwanted, although the work requires first of all being inclined toward it." Next, he says that God takes three steps toward us: "first, the election (God calls us); second, the vocation (contained in the election); and third, the requisition (the task which the vocation entrusts to us)". It is this task that faces us every day.
On this day before Lent, I realize I can't dismiss these forty days with some resolution, large or small, which can be a way to imagine I control my calling. Not at all. To go into the desert with Christ every day is to stop avoiding the vocation given to me in grinding detail and to accept and embrace the desert as prelude to both the crucifixion and the resurrection.