I opened a package Thursday to find a book I had ordered a couple weeks ago and forgotten about. Even without remembering why I ordered it, tears sprang to my eyes at the title, clearly an indication I needed to read the book right then. So I sat down and read the first half that night, with a heart so swollen and tender each chapter was like a cup of cold water.
Consider the end to chapter 3:
Jesus said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God," and in the end every word that proceeds from the mouth of God is the same word, and the word is Christ himself. And in the end that is the vocation, the calling of all of us, the calling to be Christs. To be Christs in whatever way we are able to be. To be Christs with whatever gladness we have and in whatever place, among whatever brothers we are called to. That is the vocation, the destiny to which we were all of us called, even before the foundation of the world.The first day of school this week there were half a dozen students in my room, some studying their summer work for tests in other classes, some robot team students just looking for fellow nerdy introverts, some old students just dropping by to say hello. My heart that had been quietly stirring for weeks, felt like it just might burst from being exactly where it was supposed to be. Ever since my bitter battle with self-doubt a few weeks ago, I've been pondering what it looks like to be Christ where I am and what it means to make Christ the only stumbling block, but it has been a pondering without answers, a storing up of tiny moments in my heart.
This is Buechner's prayer at the end of chapter 3, and I must have read it a dozen times Thursday night, but since then I've been praying it for myself as well as for my students.
O Thou, who art the God no less of those who know thee not than of those who love the well, be present with us at the times of choosing when time stands still and all that lies behind us and all that lies ahead are caught up in the mystery of a moment. Be present especially with the young who must choose between many voices. Help them to know how much an old world needs their youth and gladness. Help them to know that there are words of truth and healing that will never be spoken unless they speak them, and deeds of compassion and courage that will never be done unless they do them. Help them never to mistake success for victory or failure for defeat. Grant that they may never be entirely content with whatever bounty this world may bestow upon them, but that they may know at last that they were created not for happiness but for joy, and that joy is to him alone who, sometimes with tears in his eyes, commits himself in love to thee and to his brothers. Lead them and all thy world ever deeper into the knowledge that finally all men are one and that there can never really be joy for any until there is joy for all. In Christ's name we ask it and for his sake. Amen.