The Graduate Christian Fellowship invites you to:
Why am I here? What am I doing?
Reflections at the start of a new year
An evening of eating, discussing, discerning, praying, etc.
with the GCF community
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Chaplain’s office, Wycliffe College (basement)
6:00 – Dinner
7:00 (or so) – Something After Dinner – discussion, etc.
January is a hard month to narrate. It’s elusive, ambivalent. It’s the start of a new year, but all the really interesting stuff happened back in September, and now it’s just back to the same routines. We’re told the days are getting longer, but it’s also getting colder, and you know that the real winter stuff is still coming. There may be renewed resolve at the start of the year, but the biggest celebration of the year just ended, and many of us are left feeling tired, confronted with bills to pay and the work that was supposed to get done over the holidays but didn’t. A stack of unmarked exams or unwritten essays is not always a source of inspiration.
The same kind of ambivalence often characterizes the way we think, feel, and talk about what we’re doing with our lives, whether that’s academic study or some other form of work. Partly it’s the natural tendency to fall into routines, to keep doing something “because it’s there.” But there can also be very different ways of explaining the significance of what we’re doing. For example, your friends, your parents, your supervisor, your department chair, the university administration, the government, and the media, could each give a distinctly different reason why you should (or shouldn’t) be doing your thesis. And that’s even before getting to all the varied, and potentially competing, impulses you feel within yourself.
It’s not primarily a question of motivation, but a matter of imagination. How will you envision the purpose of your efforts? What’s more, that envisioning is an ongoing process, and we need the help of others – ideally a supportive community of others – to help us make sense of it. To shape an imagination that will sustain and give life.
Some stories need regular retelling. Every week the Wine Before Breakfast community celebrates the Eucharist, and re-proclaims, in words and actions, that “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.” It’s important enough to be said repeatedly.
In a similar way, the story of God’s kingdom putting down roots and sending out leaves and vines in our places of work, study and “profession” is one that requires sustained attention. It’s not only a challenging story, one that can be difficult to discern, perceive and articulate; it’s also counter-cultural and often unpopular. It’s all too easily lost, forgotten, or silenced. Our hope is that GCF can be a place of finding, remembering, and telling. A place where we once again (and again, and again) re-connect the dots that have been scattered around the page of our life so that something like a coherent picture starts to emerge. It’s a place to rekindle our imaginations, and to re-mind ourselves and each other why we’re here, and what we’re about.
This is not about inducing guilt, or getting a motivational pep talk, or setting up another lofty but unattainable goal that we resolve – this year – to actually achieve. It’s about stopping to reflect, to recall, to renew, to re-tell, to re-mind. It’s about gathering regularly, and especially at important times like the start of a new term, with a community of like-minded pilgrims, to tell our individual and collective stories of direction and purpose.
If that’s something you feel would help sustain you at the start of a new calendar year,
then please come and join us for the conversation this Thursday. And if you know of other thirsty or hungry pilgrims who would benefit from a cup of cold water, or a bowl of soup, then please invite them along too. This isn’t a time to be shy. We need each other.
In anticipation of shalom,