Unless you are incredibly hardheaded, you will not be able to long escape or deny the conclusion that you don’t know what you are doing and that you cannot create the life you wish you could live. Eventually, you will wake up at the bottom of some wall and realize that you cannot arrange things like you want them to be. This is the Transformational Conclusion. It is the threshold to the life we are called to live, built to live, designed to live, made to live. In the Bible, this life is referred to as “the Land of Promise,” and “the Kingdom of God.” It is where things are what they are fully capable of being in service to, in alignment with, in light of what we might call “True Value.” Your ideal life is who you are capable of being, what you are capable of doing, in accordance with True Value.
This is what we are here to help you do, who we are here to help you be, but. You have to help us help you. You need us. We need you. It takes all of us to live lives aligned with True Value. Individually, we have a sense of it. We all have a built in sense of direction, a sense of value, but. It takes us all to validate, affirm, question, explore, examine, what each of us thinks is the right direction and of true value. The ground of the life that is OUR LIFE is conversation that opens us to alternatives, options and possibilities we would never think to consider on our own.
At this point comes into play the genius of the Presbyterian way of doing things. There are two elements of the Presbyterian way that are invaluable in helping us with the work of finding our own way. They are: 1) The sanctity of the individual’s conscience, and 2) The foundational awareness that all of us are smarter than any one of us (And the “all of us” includes not only those of us who are present in any moment in our life, but those who have gone before us, the “saints in light,” who are with us in the writings and traditions that are commonly recognized as “wise” across all writings and all traditions).
These two points of contrast, contradiction and tension form the poles within which Presbyterians live and enable life to be lived around them. We relax the tension in favor of either pole to the detriment of us all. This means that no group can tell any individual what to do, and no individual can decide for herself, for himself, alone, apart from the consultative presence of the group, what she, or he, will do. This is the conundrum of life aligned with True Value. We have to work out the particulars of how it is done in every here-and-now of our lives. Where does the line lie between me and all of you, between each of you and all of us? Tricky. And, we have to always be engaged in the eternal process of working it out in the specific context and circumstances of our lives. That is the work that enables us to live the life that is OUR LIFE to live, the work that we are here to help you do.
The core of this work is conversation. It is talking with each other about the things that are important to us, the things that matter to us, the things that have value to us. We evaluate the values we serve by talking about them in the right kind of company. Together we examine the validity of what we think is valid. This is the communion that is the foundation of our life, the covenant that is at the heart of our life together. We come together to ask, and seek, and knock, to see, and hear and understand. And what do we seek? What do we see when we see, hear when we hear, understand when we understand? What is of True Value. What is worthy of us. And what we are asked to do, who and how we are asked to be that would exhibit, express, True Value in the here and now of our living.
All of this depends upon you living in ways that are important to you, have value to you, matter to you. You have to live in ways that you care about if you care about living in ways that are aligned with True Value. This underscores the central significance of the sanctity of the individual conscience. You have to say what is important to you if you are to have a chance of ever seeing and saying what is truly important. You start with what is important to you and change your mind over the course of your life, through your experience of being alive, so as to better align yourself with what is truly important, to live in sync with the heart of True Value. To do that, you have to be, or begin, living a life that you care about, doing things that matter, that are important, to you. You cannot fade out, cancel yourself out, and allow Those Who Know Best (Truman Capote) to direct your living, telling you what to do or what you should care about. You have to care about what you care about and let that lead you into what to care about. You have to live your life with your eyes open to what is happening and your heart open to the path with your name on it, and let that take you to the life that is truly yours to live. Amen! May it be so!