It's a great topic, and worth hunkering down with for a while. Our desires are what make us unique and, as I blogged about last December here, understanding them can help lead us to our true vocations. Not only can they teach us about who we are, they can help us find communities to which we belong. That's what I explore in the post below, with a nod to Harry Potter.
And, just a reminder: if you're wanting to get a copy of "Our Savior Come" in time for Advent, you'll need to order soon as Advent starts this Sunday.
Letting our Desires Sort Us
On the night that Harry Potter and his friends arrive at Hogwarts, they are ushered into a large room with rows of tables prepared for an opening banquet. But before the festivities begin, each student must go through the sorting process. Called one by one to the front, they sit upon a stool and a ragged hat is placed upon their head. After a few moments of deliberation, the hat determines which house they are best suited for, choosing, in effect, their closest friends and companions for the years of schooling.
I wonder if our desires don’t function in a similar way. If we pay attention to them, they help to sort us into communities that will nurture and educate us. We will find ourselves grouped with like-minded and like-empassioned companions with whom we can learn and explore and create. And these groups often have a history, providing us with mentors that go back through the centuries.
If we haven’t grown up in a biological family with similar desires, or with parents who encouraged or provided direction, this new family offers surrogate parents. I remember a friend of mine telling me about a dream where she was embraced by Henri Nouwen, and Mary the mother of Christ. Both of these figures are people with whom she identified strongly, members of the household in which she now finds herself.
Allowing oneself to be “named,” can bring clarity. Recently a friend told me that she wondered why I didn’t become an Anglican priest. As I contemplated being sorted into that community of faith, I realized that I do hold much in common with the spiritual heritage and direction of this group. I was also able to affirm to myself that much of my life I have been filling a pastoral role. Accepting this designation, whether in concept or in actuality, gives me additional ways of understanding my desires. It helps me make sense of what I do, and why and how I do it, while suggesting where I might head to find new companions who share these same commitments.
I don’t think I would mind all that much if a talking hat would appear in my mailbox. It sure seems easier than sorting my desires out by myself. And yet, I’m not alone in this endeavor. In my contemplative moments, in the conversation of friends, as I pay attention to what it is that makes me truly feel alive, the spirit will nudge me in the right direction, helping me notice what I love, what that says about me, and point me toward those I need,
those who need me.