It’s usually through a series of otherwise unconnected but often chronologically proximal events that the Divine chooses to send me messages. A theme emerges. A thread becomes spiritually visible. A connection is made. And the message is undeniable.
Item 1: A few years ago, I was part of developing a new theme at the Unity church where I attend and am involved in leadership. The theme was “authentic transformation.” It was what I felt I was undergoing and what I believed to be core to the spiritual journey. Every Sunday morning in my roll as “platform person” at Unity of Music City in Old Hickory, TN, I say something to the effect of “Welcome to Unity Music City, a place of authentic transformation. It’s who we are. It’s what we do.”
Item 2: A year or so ago, I had the privilege of meeting Michael McRay when he was speaking at Unity of MC about his reconciliation work in Israel and Palestine. I saw him again at a workshop for Narrative4, a story-telling reconciliation practice he facilitates. I saw him a third time just a couple of weeks ago when he conducted a Narrative4 workshop at the college where I teach. What strikes me every time I hear Michael is that he is a very young man (28? 29?) who is able to clearly communicate his purpose. Michael will state in no uncertain terms “This is my purpose, and these are the ways I express it in the world.”
Item 3: During a recent Wednesday night class at Unity of MC, the idea of purpose entered the discussion. My dear friend and minister, Denise Yeargin, said, “I know my friend, Deb, is a teacher, and a darn fine one, but I also know that is not her purpose. Am I right?” And she looked right at me. I said, “You’re right.” It was as if the Universe was saying, “You’ve danced around this for a while now; it’s time to turn it into a declarative statement.” I hesitated for just a moment, and then I said, intuitively, “My purpose is enthusiasm. My purpose is to help others find enthusiasm in life.”
Item 4: I went home that night and looked up “enthusiasm” once again. I had looked it up before, and I knew that it meant something akin to “God within.” But when I looked this time, I found a more definitive translation from the original Greek that I don’t remember ever seeing before. It was “possessed by the essence of God.” Oh, brother. That about brought me to my knees.
Item 5: I posted something on Facebook about a successful teacher moment. For me, a successful teacher moment is when a student expresses some newfound enthusiasm for their journey because of something that happens in my classroom. In the comments on the post, one of my former students, from way back in my second or third year of teaching, said this, “You’re a transformational educator . . . always have been. Thank you for your heart, mind, and spirit! You are one of the best to ever do it! #thankGodforTSU #freshmanhonorsenglish #myfave #abetterwriterforit” Okay, so that totally rocked my world, but what really stood out to me was that word “transformational.”
The last meeting with Michael McRay, the Wednesday night class, and the former student’s comment happened within 10 days of each other.
And it all brings me here:
My purpose in life is to teach the transformational power of enthusiasm. My purpose is to show how transformational it is to be possessed by the essence of God. I do this through teaching, through singing, through my work at Unity of Music City, through my work in the classroom, through my one-on-one encounters with students, through my work as a chaplain in the pastoral care ministry at Unity, and through every conversation or thought I have.
I do this by living a transformed life with enthusiasm.
And so it is.