What I really need is to get clear about what I must do, not what I must know, except insofar as knowledge must precede every act. What matters is to find a purpose, to see what it really is that God wills that I shall do; the crucial thing is to find a truth which is truth for me, to find the idea for which I am willing to live and die.

1 August 1835

I have been thinking a lot about vocation. Do I have one? And if so, what is it? Is it from me or from God? What if I tell people and they laugh?

This morning I thought about one of the earliest pieces that people normally read when they start with Kierkegaard – the journal entry for 1 August 1835. And, in particular, it is the end, “and die”. Is the vocation something I am willing to die for? Or, to put it another way, am I willing to live it for the rest of my life? No matter what the cost. If so, whether the church says it is a vocation, or other people, because less relevant. Yes, God speaks through others! But am I dedicated enough to stick it out to the very end even under opposition.

And then I thought about a quote from a book I have been reading (which I think I have shared before):

And it is in this sense that it has been rightly said that monasticism is a kind of substitute for mar­tyrdom.

I am not sure what a “substitute” means in this context. And I know that various forms of monasticism have sometimes been called “white martyrdom”. So putting it all together I am still as clueless as always!!!

ultimate wager

Life in Religion is the ultimate wager on the existence of God. The Church should always be engaged in doing things that make no sense if God does not exist. This is the reason why I hold the Religious life in the highest esteem. Through the commonality of goods, the life of obedience and above all the commitment to shape life around the Opus Dei (that is, prayer), the monastic life models for all Christians what it means to live fully and abundantly, with and for Christ.”

The Most Rev’d Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
Foreword to: Anglican Religious Life 2016-17

I have been thinking about the above quote a lot.

So …

I have renewed my blog for another year. In a year, I have no idea where I will be – emotionally, spiritually, or physically – but I am taking a “leap into faith”. I have a very strong sense of what God wants from me but since we are in lockdown I have not had the opportunity to talk to people about it. Life needs to unfold and I simply need to be patient and wait.

Kierkegaard tattoo

So I wanted to share this picture:

For my birthday I got a tattoo. Something I never thought I would do. But I am so happy with the whole experience that I am thinking about what to get for the other arm. Sorry, a bathroom selfie is not very aesthetic.

Today I am getting my first dose of the Covid vaccine. And, in an ironic twist, I am a little worried that it will hurt. So pray for me!

to be chosen

God is present in the moment of choice, not in order to watch but in order to be chosen. Therefore, each person must choose. Terrible is the battle, in a person’s innermost being, between God and the world. The crowning risk involved lies in the possession of choice.

Søren Kierkegaard

Does anyone have a source for the above quote?

faith and doubt

The opposite of faith is not doubt because the opposite of doubt is knowledge. And faith is not a type of knowledge. The opposite of faith is sin – a refusal to believe.

manage people

… because everyone is drawn almost irresistibly back towards this urge to manage.

Rowan Williams. Silence and Honey Cakes, 26.

I have been reading Silence and Honey Cakes – a book by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on desert spirituality. It was recommended to me by a lecture in history at a Catholic theological institute.

The above – “this urge to manage” – is a very strong image for me in the first chapter. The withdrawal into the desert is not a withdrawal from a sinful world but an opening of my own sinfulness. And at the core of this is my need to manage people. To set limits on other people’s access to God and to always place myself between God and people. To make myself the spiritual guru, the person with the answers, the person who has it all worked out. To place myself above the other is not an act of love but hubris.

But that is nothing but my sinfulness. And in silence, I hear that most clearly. The desert is not a place but part of my heart that I need to listen to intently. Only when I know what it means to be broken can I really appreciate what it means to be whole – or holy!

John 6:24-35

The lectionary continues the journey through John 6. It skips a couple of verses but the overall flow is still there.

[The next day the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there. They also saw that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Then some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.] So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.

When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

John 6:[22-23]24-35

The introduction – setting the scene – reminds me very much of Fear and Trembling. The double movement of faith – surrender and receive – setting out mind on things above and receive the Bread of Life.