Monday, May 22, 2023

CN | The Seamless Life: Coherence + Continuity + Congruence

Catch a glorious vision of hope in Christ, a coherent life, a seamless life. + Dr. Sutrisna Harjanto

As we anticipate starting Surge School again, I keep coming back to Dr. Steven Garber's dedication to his grandchildren at the beginning of his beautiful little book, The Seamless Life:

Live into the vision of a seamless life, a coherence between who you are and why you are, giving meaning to what you do with the lives that are yours.

This is what we hope to see happen within the hearts, minds, and everyday living of participants that partner with us for Surge School, fully knowing that to capture a vision of a seamless life will be a process that takes time, care, community, challenge, and invitation into wonder. 

Laura Fabrycky captures a bit of what this wild venture can be like:

Exercise the daily struggle to see the world truthfully, to know it in its heartache and pain, and to keep loving it still. See your own corner of the world better, honor its complicated goodness and beauty, and love your places and people with creativity, courage, and above all, hope.

Our goal or telos for Surge is to help people see the world through the eyes of Jesus, knowing its heartache and pain, and then choosing how to faithfully love it still. 

Steven Garber is a helpful sherpa in leading us along on such a path, and below are some adapted excerpts from The Seamless Life to provide you with a window into what engaging Surge School could be like for you in the year ahead. Ultimately, the telos or goal will be to connect your daily life and work with God's abundant life and work, your story with the story of God for the life of the world.

The Seamless Life: At Work in the World and Making Sense of Life

The most important questions always are: 

Who or what is our reason for being? 
Why do we do the things we do? 
What does it all mean?

Our vocations grow out of our beliefs about the way things are, about what matters and what doesn't matter; what we do with life is born out of our commitments about the meaning of life.

With Jesus, we are invited to live a life, a coherent life, in which what we believe about God and the world is worked out in the way we live in the world. Begun on our knees, we step into our work day by day, contributing to our community, offering an unusual blend of competence and character to the watching world. We are invited to be good at what we do and to be good human beings who image the God we were created to be like (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18), a "common grace for the common good" (Matthew 5:43-48).

But to see a story where the complexity of life is honored, and the importance of work is understood, is rare. The best stories are the truest stories, the ones in which we recognize ourselves, full of hope and honor, but also prone to self-deception and self-destruction.

Because vocation is a rich and complex word and is never the same word as occupation, we are always more than our work, though our work matters. We create, but we sweat. We do our best but still disappoint.

Sometimes, heaven meets earth in and through our work, and it becomes almost sacramental—and then sometimes we curse the very work of work. We are our best and our worst at work. And yet, we are invited into a good story, one we could not write for ourselves on our own—because a good story tells the truth about what we do and why we do it. The challenge everyone everywhere faces is connecting the deeper story of who we are with what we do, day by day, year after year. Coherence and continuity matter.

We yearn for the things we love to be the way that we live, even as we realize that the two will never be the same, completely and absolutely, this side of heaven reconciling with earth. We long for what we do to grow out of who we are, for our occupation(s) to be rooted in our vocation. That is the hope of everyone's heart.

Can we pray and workora et labora—at the same time, a life where praying and working are held together, offered as one heart and therefore one life? Can we see and experience "a thin place," where heaven and earth meet in a remarkable way? 
The most important questions are perennial questions, asked and asked again, because they matter—whether we live in the fifth century (when the Benedictine tradition was asking similar questions like the ones above) or the twenty-first century; whether we are African or Russian, whether we are men or women, whether we are tinkerers or prime ministers. They are human questions because human beings ask them. 
To see seamlessly is the hope, perhaps even to see sacramentally, where we have eyes to see where heaven and earth meet—where ora et labora become one—right in the middle of our ordinary lives, lived as they must be in ordinary places.

The Christian life is the lifelong practice of attending to the details of congruence — congruence between ends and means, congruence between what we do and the way we do it, congruence between what is written in Scripture and our living out what is written ... the congruence of the Word made flesh in Jesus with what is lived in our flesh.

Congruence also occurs often enough in a child unselfishly at play; a conversation in which words become as movements in a ballet, revealing all manner of beauty and truth and goodness; a meal bringing friends into a quiet awareness of affection and celebration in a mingling of senses and spirits that provides something like a Eucharistic dimension to the evening.

+ Eugene Peterson

An Invitation to Consider Surge School New England

If some of these thoughts intrigue you and stir curiosity and a hunger to learn more, consider participating in Surge School New England.

May God's Kingdom come, His will be done.
JesΓΊs nuestra Rey, venga Tu reino! 

With presence, peace, and many blessings,

Rev. Mike “Sully” Sullivan

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