If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business because we’d be too cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down. Annie Dillard
I grew up in a home that was on some counts strictly religious on fundamentalist terms, on other counts wildly unprincipled and unreasonable. It used to be embarrassing to me, but now it strikes me as more odd than anything else, how long it took me to gather the moral gumption to move beyond the control of my parents and their world.
I was twenty-years-old when I got my first driver’s license and twenty-one when I left home for a fundamentalist college in Iowa. As strange as it seems to talk about that, it took significant conscious resistance to my parents for even that to happen. Timid steps those were, but steps they were.
None of us can be blamed for where we come from. But we do have choices about what to do about it, where to go, who to be.
I could point you to the cliffs I’ve jumped off. Leaving Washington for college in the Midwest. Join the Army National Guard. Leave fundamentalism and move to Nebraska. Go into ministry after Iraq, in spite of Dad and Grandpa being pastors. Take the risk of going to a struggling rural parish.
This Sunday I’m flying to Chicago for my first residency in the ACTS D.Min. in Preaching program. I’m passionate about this: Bible interpretation, Christian theology, contextualization, communication, mission. It’s scary. Putting who you are out there. Taking the risk of being open to feedback. Focusing on the work at hand. Submitting to what it means to live out my calling while my parish is watching.
I appreciate Dillard’s quote above. I hate jumping off cliffs. But gravity builds the best wings.