Thursday, September 8, 2011

All the Seasons, All the Time

There are days when my head makes me think I’m 19. The rest of me acts as a brake on that thought.

I turned 60 yesterday. It seems like it should be some important milestone. I suppose it is. But I can’t think of it that way. There’s still too much to learn, too much to see and to be.

A friend of mine who retired from where I work told me a few years ago that she thought of me as a poster child for continuous learning. There’s a reason for that. Over the course of my career, I’ve had the opportunity to reinvent myself many times. Newspaper copy editor, corporate magazine editor, corporate writer, corporate speechwriter, PR guy, issues manager, supervisor, philanthropic outreach 9I got to give money away), community relations manager, environmental issues manager, email newsletter editor, speechwriter to one of Fortune Magazine’s “seven toughest bosses,” web site manager (back when it was original and hardly no one knew how to do it, including me), change communications leader, independent consultant, community facilitator, spokesman for an urban school district (and a district in crisis), speaker, bankruptcy communications manager, supervisor again, social media team leader, blogger, writer, storyteller, poet.

I suspect that a lot of people have had careers like this, especially if you entered the work world in the 1970s – constant career reinvention. We were the generation for whom American business broke the famous employee-employer contract, and career re-invention became mandatory.

Re-invention just hasn’t been at the office. Then there’s faith.

If I could draw, and if I had to draw a picture of my faith, you would not see an orderly progression of growth toward spiritual maturity. The growth of my faith did not happen – is still not happening – in a linear, orderly away fashion. My picture is messy, with lots of smudges and scratch-outs and overlays and implants. Some of it is in color, and some of it is back-and-white. Parts have been erased and drawn over. There’s nothing chronological about it.

One of the smartest things I did for my faith was to take several college extension courses offered through the church we attended in Houston in the mid-1970s. I didn’t have a strong understanding of the Bible, and I needed to understand basics. The pastors taught several courses, and over two to three years I took classes in Old Testament Survey, New Testament Survey and Bible Study Methods. These courses provided the basics of understanding that Id id not have.

In the 1980s, as part of a master’s program at Washington University in St. Louis, I took seminars in Athens and Jerusalem, History of the Early Christian Church, and Science, Creation Science and Pseudo-Science. Despite studying at a university rather famous for practical atheism, I found my faith challenged and stimulated.

In the 1990s, I taught Children’s Church for half a year and children’s Sunday School for four years. I taught an adult Sunday School class on the subject of being salt and light. Teaching, and especially the teaching of children, had the effect of deepening faith. In 2002, I went on a short term missions trip to Eastern Europe, and experienced faith as I never had before in a small church in Erfurt, Germany, in a building that had been a former communist social hall.

This may sound linear, but it hasn’t been. There were gaps and setbacks and occasional reversals. There were dry periods, empty times when faith seemed artificial. Some of these would happen in the middle of the growth times. That experience in Erfurt happened in the middle of a “winter” period, when it seemed the church I has been a member of for almost 15 years was collapsing around me.

Over at Faith Barista, Bonnie Gray is asking the question, what season of faith are you walking through? It is fall, with its letting go, or winter, with its loss and waiting? Is it spring, the time of new starts? Or summer, with its time to embrace and celebrate?

The answer for me is, it is all of these. It has always been so. At times some elements have been stronger than others, but all four have been present continuously throughout this journey, more a pilgrimage, I’ve been on for almost 40 years of faith.

For me, it’s been all the seasons, all the time.

To see more posts on the seasons of faith, please visit Faith Barista.

Photograph: Dark Street by Petr Kratochvil via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.


Lisa notes... said...

You express it well: my head feels 19, my body? Well, quite a few years older. :-) Hope you had a wonderful birthday!

You’ve had a very full life, both in work experiences and faith. May you keep learning and sharing what you learn.

I feel like I often live in all 4 seasons at the same time too… Well said, Glynn.

Maureen said...

Lovely reflection.

Before I got to your answer to Bonnie's question, I thought to myself: For me, it's all of these, and sometimes seemingly daily.

Your life is rich (I won't put any of it in past tense) in so many ways. Your faith helps make it so.

Scarlet said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and life experiences. You have had a full meaningful life, and you will still have many more of these.

I can relate to your learning curve, and non-linear approach to faith. I only discovered blogging last year, and I am only discovering the many blogs and sites including poetry writing. Still so much to learn. And no, I am not 19 anymore but inside me, I feel young. It also helps that I am continuously studying for my field (insurance) every year. As to my faith, I am lucky to have imbibed it at a very young age. So, my faith is also for all seasons.

Anonymous said...

all ages
all seasons
all colours
one reason

S. Etole said...

The seasons can change so abruptly at times ... and yet He is our constant.

Jannie Funster said...

Doesn't sound linear at all. Sounds like lots of overlapping and adventuring along the way.

And you're just getting started, Glynn!!

H. Gillham said...

What a transparent post this is -- to let us view your journey this way.

Faith is a solid thing, but I don't manage to always stand firm on it as I should.

Great post. Happy Birthday, btw.

Louise Gallagher said...

Happy happy day! You and Eric Bibb are two weeks apart! He just got married on his sixtieth two weeks ago.

One ofmthe many things I admire about you is the constancy of your faith. Through it all, you have always had a foundation iGod.

You insure me my friend, thank you.

Patricia said...

All seasons, all the time, in varying degrees/circumstances... but I've only been able to see that now that I am older and hopefully, a bit wiser. Thank you for sharing.

Unknown said...

Love your perspective young man!

Unknown said...

I love your perspective...and yes, I still feel 19 in my head as well. :)

ed pilolla said...

the proverbial journey is anything but proverbial at all. we move in and out of these roles in this world, all while attempting to forge a genuine relationship with god. many of us are slow to know ourselves. i've lived years in winter, but i've also lived years in summer. and as you say the seasons also pass in a day. well put.
where were you a newspaper copy editor?