Thursday, February 19, 2009

What Happens When You Follow Jesus?

One of my favorite gospel passages is when Jesus calls Matthew to follow him. (Already, an aside: I saw what I think is the worst portrayal of this in the children's version of the Jesus movie. It showed Jesus walking up to Matthew, the two with no apparent history. Jesus stares at him, walks past him, and says "Follow me" while walking away. Matthew gets up, follows down the road, and suddenly he is a disciple. The movie proves the mere literal portrayal of Scripture as dreadfully one-dimensional and begging for an infusion of humanity.)

Ok, back to that gospel passage (Mt. 9:9-10). Jesus issues the call to Matthew to follow Him, and where do you find them immediately afterward? At Matthew's house having dinner at a big party. I love that! Is Matthew following Jesus, or is Jesus following Matthew? Or does Jesus lead Matthew back to his own self, to deal with what is really there? That is how it has always struck me. When Jesus bids me follow Him, it is because He wants His life deeper in me.

Some time ago I wrote about an experience of being welcomed into my church choir. I have since joined. (After that post, what else could I do?) It was a following Christ thing, and yes, lo and behold, I find Christ using it to gain deeper access to my heart. I can't really explicate exactly how it is happening yet. I'm guessing it is about 10% sprouted at this point. But this much I can say: I've never been very good at just owning my abilities, talents, or assets. My reaction to this expression of my "I" has been either a self-deprecating denial (which begs contradiction) or a self-conscious and egotistical self-aggrandizement. The latter has left me burnt out with super hero self-expectation, and sometimes has led me to accept responsibilities that don't fit me well. Recent seasons of my life have seen me flying under the radar of various social commitments and responsibilities. This has felt very good, and has given me lovely breathing room to grow up at my own pace.

And here I am in the choir. There is something about a talent community** coming together. Everyone is there to give something of themselves -- of their very soul, really. If you are fortunate (we are) it is under the direction of someone capable of eliciting good things from other human beings. (This talent amazes me.) Everyone struggles to some degree. And yes I mean with the notes but I also mean on a more basic human level of giving, for whatever the reason. Yet there is one desire shared, to give the best one can give.

That's the best I can do right now to explicate. Like I said, 10%.

There's another endeavor I've gotten into recently (which deserves a post of its own), the Jefferson County Federated Republican Women (JCFRW). This has been humorous to me, since I have always shuddered at the thought of association with political parties. More on that later. Of all things, I am not only a member of JCFRW but an executive officer! But I have been really amazed to watch the excellent work these women do. It is inspiring. It's yet another example of talents pooled and group efforts bringing together something of much greater service than what one individual could do.

Right now I think I'm doing what some children do when entering a new environment. They step back, watch, and see what happens when others venture in.

So stay tuned for the emergence of the other 90%.

** Terms like "talent community" remind me of the goofy-speak I first encountered as a new Catholic. It makes a point, which is why I used it here, but honestly I strongly dislike phrases like this. Please say parish, not "faith community." Btw, I also really got a hoot out of the word "rectory" in those days. Is that where the proctologist lives? I wondered.

No comments: