Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cold wet humble renewal

I had an interesting memory this morning. I was walking the dog up a modest incline, cold, and in the face of a biting breeze; you know, the kind of wind that works its way between the joins and the buttons and you never can quite get warm. It was only 32 degrees, but this is Florida, so it was cold enough to get my attention. Well, I don't know exactly what it was, but something about the combination of sensations put me back on a chill English street in 1975. The memory just hit me, unsummoned; it was like I was actually there.

The occasion had been my admissions interview for Westminster College in Oxford, England. I was about to turn 19, and I really didn't know why I was there. My high school grades had been abysmal, and my examination results were worse. But maybe I needed to see for myself and so I took the train to England's oldest college city and I hiked up the long hill toward inevitability. I had to walk several miles and halfway to the school it started to rain. So there I was - cold, unsure of myself, purposeless, floundering, and soaking wet; not one of the bright spots of my young life to that point.

I'm not sure that I have ever thought about that moment since - at least not until something stirred the memory today.

The good news about my cold wet walk to rejection in Oxford was the fact that the experience helped me clarify the need for direction in my life. It wasn't enough anymore to simply mark time. The danger, today, is still to fall into patterned familiarity - no matter how good it is - at the expense of what is possible. Typically I'm not cold, I'm seldom unsure of myself, I haven't floundered in years and my purpose is clear... But that doesn't mean I should settle in too comfortably as if I have graduated beyond the need for renewal or re-direction.

God's plan eventually did involve a college education - but not at the top of that particular cold, wet hill. The people at Oxford didn't give me the time of day - but when I was ready I earned my degree summa cum laude. So my question is this... is God still calling me to push the envelope and to scale new heights?

I may be in my 50's now; but in terms of purpose I may yet be coming into the fullness of what is really possible...

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