“The glory of God is the living man, and the life of man is the vision of God.”
– Saint Irenaeus
I heard this quote for the first time in my sister and brother-in-law’s church in Virginia Beach on Sunday. I have since read that this has apparently been misconstrued into, “the glory of God is man fully alive.” Nevertheless, I found myself taking copious notes during the service or more accurately asking my sister, Margaret, to do so for me! That is, until I recognized some elements in the sermon that appeared to be lifted from my column last week. My sister gave me a knowing nod in those moments and then upon my return to Charlottesville, confirmed this to be the case.
The pastor, Randy Singer, is not on my distribution list but may have seen a forwarded e-mail or Facebook share or perhaps, he is enlightened enough to subscribe to The Roanoke Star. It was truly one of the more satisfying moments of my life- recognizing the possibility that my thoughts influenced someone else’s, particularly a person of the proverbial cloth. The day before, my totally awesome nephew, Chase, inquired about my writing and whether it was something that I felt called to do, whether it brought me joy, whether I was going to write a book someday.
I have reflected a great deal about the intersection of passion and gifting as it relates to vocation. I do feel “fully alive” when writing- which is nothing short of shocking, considering I hated it until a Literature & Film class at UVa in which the TA, yes TA, held my hand and, well, believed in me. My profession is real estate about which I am passionate, too, but writing seems different somehow. Although the latter brings no monetary reward at present, I feel oddly more “successful” in this endeavor. And I think I know why.
Sit with these two connected quotes from disparate sources as you ruminate on what or who makes YOU feel “fully alive”: The first from a commencement address by George Saunders: “…accomplishment is unreliable. ‘Succeeding,’ whatever that might mean to you, is hard, and the need to do so constantly renews itself (success is like a mountain that keeps growing ahead of you as you hike it), and there’s the very real danger that ‘succeeding’ will take up your whole life, while the big questions go untended.”
The second, from Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, which is a great book, by the way:
“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.”
I daresay your “who” will deeply inform your “what.” It certainly has for me.
– Caroline Watkins