Swim with the monkeys 2
This week’s reflection is a continuation of the one from last week or “swimming in the monkey poop part II”*. Over the past few weeks, it has been my privilege to be journeying with some young people who are planning the next steps in their career. One of them said to me this week “I feel like this decision will impact the rest of my life” and my response was it will but that is not a bad thing because each option will have challenges and possibilities. It is actually advice I have to continually give myself and perhaps wish I had heard when I was young. In my early twenties I was in some ways older than I am now. I thought every decision had to be practical and make sense not only to myself but to the world. As a result with my financial management degree I ended up working as a branch manager at a bank. It was the worst and most ill-fitting job I ever had and I stayed at it 5 years, about 4 years and six months too long. At the end it was most definitely swimming in the monkey poop and feeling like I was going down, trapped unable to get out. The thing that saved me, however, was the church, particularly a group of 11 year old boys who kept me afloat and finally pulled me ashore to find a new direction. In the biblical story of Joseph when he reencounters the brothers who betrayed him and sold him into slavery, he offers these words, “you meant it for ill but God meant it for good”. I don’t know how Joseph understood this but because I don’t see God as a cosmic chess player manipulating our life for good or ill, I see these words as the realization that somehow even in the hardest times of his life possibilities emerged that gave him hope and a new start where he thought there was none. And these possibilities became the Sacred movement in his life birthing something new. So I look back on the monkey poop days at the bank as ones I probably would not choose again, but because I did I arrived at Seminary on day where I found myself in an orientation group led by a professor who saw not that I lacked the underpinnings of a religion degree but I had the gift of seeing the big picture of theology in unique way. A group where I met two men who would be my constant companions on that journey of study, swimming with me and I with them in good times and bad. And in that group on that day I would meet the person who would be my life partner and share my life journey, with whom I would parent two beautiful young women. If I had wisely left the monkey poop river earlier I would have missed it. I screwed it up but somehow God birthed the possibility of the good in the midst of it all. So as we enter our next few years I promise that we will all swim through clear streams and murky ones but my hope is that in 25 years when folks gather to celebrate another milestone, they will say there were ups and downs, good times and bad but when we look back we can see that God birthed good here, because they were in it together and they didn’t stop swimming.
*This illustration comes from the book by George Saunders "Congratulations by the way" a gift to our graduates