On Sunday evening Chris Heuertz from Word Made Flesh visited the Cortina Floor. He presented challenges through his own personal experiences. I am blessed enough to have the ability to put his text in context as I prepare to visit the Dominican Republic as a summer travel course. He mentioned three different concepts that resonated with me: Exploitation, Vocation, and Community. I don’t know that I have any answers, but I certainly have more questions that I intend to explore.
Chris believed in vocational exploration, vocational discovery, and vocational commitment. He suggested that while we explore vocation we need to listen to our “involuntary responses” such as laughter or tears. For me, that is right on! But as I sit here and think about how this vocation will present itself throughout the rest of my life, I struggle. Maybe because I can’t precisely define vocation and what that means to me. What I do believe, however, is that a vocation seems like more than a cause but rather a lifelong heartfelt commitment. I struggle because I feel that if we truly believe in our vocation it should be a primary focus in our lives because it generally is a positive move towards the betterment of human kind. While some may be able to make their vocation into a career there are many in the nation that are not as fortunate enough to do that. Therefore, making it impossible to have this opportunity to have a job where you can focus on your vocation. So I was left to answer the question, how and where does vocation fit in your life if it is not your career?
Secondly, Chris discussed this concept of exploitation. He made the argument that if we are just going to another country to observe the poor and less fortunate then we are exploiting the people of that country. I immediately searched my soul to find out why I wanted to go to the DR this summer in hopes of convincing myself that I wasn’t going to exploit anyone. While discerning within myself the reasons that going to the DR are so important to me I recognized the significance of being aware about the struggles other humans are going through throughout this world. But I am concerned that becoming aware through observance and interaction it is the type of exploitation Chris was talking about and now I am so fearful that my visit might be offensive. So I am struggling to find out, at what point is the interest in becoming more aware of the world around me the exploitation of others?
Community was also a large part of Chris’s talk. He asked a question that challenged many of us, “How many of you have a friend on welfare?” The question had a simple answer, but the implication of that friendship had a more important application. I couldn’t tell you one person that I know that is on welfare, which went to prove Chris’s next point; he said “we live in predictable, safe spaces.” Chris is right; we associate with people who are similar to us. Is this because we are afraid of being uncomfortable or is that we are too ego driven to recognize the equality between humans? My answer to his question was embarrassing. I do not want to be perceived as someone who only associates with white middle class people because I fear the unknown and the uncomfortableness of having a true relationship with someone completely different than me. Unfortunately, that is all too close to reality for me.
I hate to admit these faults, but I think it is the first step in my attempts to do things for pure reasons. Like Emily and I discussed, if one waits for all impure thoughts to diminish you will accomplish nothing. So, for now, I reflect and discern in an attempt to find pure reason and motive. Cortina has been a major influence in this process and has challenged me to go on this journey, and for that, I am eternally grateful.
Doing my thang on this journey,