A Year of Going Deep

It’s an oft-cited complaint: American Christianity is three-thousand miles wide and litte more than an inch deep.  So they say.

The four of us, Anjie, Amy, and Daniel and I sat over dinner last night and re-upped on an old family tradition.  Well, that may be overselling it a bit…we did this particular activity several years running when the kids were little.   It wanted to be a tradition, and we got side-tracked somewhere along the way.  Anyway, last night, we sat and gave it another whirl.

We set goals for 2010.

It will be a busy year, a year of transition for Amy and I.   She’s off to pursue the acting career in New York after she finishes at Cincinnati, and I’m moving back toward the free-lance work that defined my life from 1996-2007.   How will it all shake out?   None of us know, but we’ve got lots of work to do, and most of it exciting and hopeful.

But I suggested a theme for the year, and I’m not sure what they’ll all do with it, but for me, it’s a thought that’s been nagging at me.

Going deep.

My new iPhone is the first piece of technology I’ve picked up since the whole computer craze began well over two decades ago  that I’ve both craved and dreaded.    It’s cool and useful, but it’s a gadget and distracting.  Colors and apps and calls and tweets and games and general megabytes of cool come racing out of that little screen, and life is play all over again.   Which is fine.  But as the choices of buttons to push proliferates, I am just stunned to think of the speed of the choices that must be made.   I turned 50 this year, and for better or worse, the clock of my life is ticking.  Nothing new, but my earthen life is not infinite, and there remain good things to do.  But I have to ask, “Which ones?”  And that perhaps can only be discovered by asking the question that precedes the “doing” inquiry.

Who am I going to be?

I know, at 50, I should have the answer to this down pat.  But if life is a journey, which we all say it is, then there is new terrain up ahead.   My sense is that if God knows me, and knows this being named Jeff He is trying to mold and shape, then I have not yet fully embraced all of His vision, and I still work far too hard on my own.   There is “being” work to be done, and it has to be done in the deep places of soul, prayer, thought, service, and love.

Perhaps the verb for the year should be “to plumb.”   But how to do it?  What does a “deep” day look like?   Is it a particular sort of action, or a particular way of doing a thing?  Is it not “doing” at all?

Just wondering…what would you tell someone who wanted to go deep in 2010?

How about something like…”to will one thing.”

Nothing new in the world…

3 Comments

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  1. it’s encouraging to hear that the question, “who am i going to be” can be useful. it sounds like you ask that often before embarking on a new journey.

    I say this because some of the scariest times in my life have been when i’ve had to ask that very question.

    Maybe going deep means embracing that inevitably who you are is more important than what you do. We spend hours, days, months deciding where we’re going to live, what we’re going to eat, how we’re going to advance in our career… Then when the question of who we are arises we grasp at thin air to explain it and often answer with what we’re doing or what we’ve done.

    Maybe who we are is more about what we should do and why.

    i don’t have to feel overwhelmed when faced with that question. maybe i should smile and realize that i’m at the beginning of another part of my journey when i ask, “who am i going to be”

    thanks!

  2. One way I’m attempting this is to revisit a book that has meant a lot to me in the past, The Way of the Heart, by Henri Nouwen. His thoughts on our compulsions, the way we get our sense of self from all the wrong places, and his take on the curatives of solitude, silence and prayer strike me as the place where everything important must begin for me. The book is about 97 pages, but it’s a long, thoughtful read.

  3. Hey Jeff, what happens if you follow the metaphor? Are you a freediver like the ancient spear fishers? Are you diving with a tank? Are you connected to a float by an airtube? Are you in a submarine? What kind of freedom do you need once you’re under? Do you want to explore or sit and observe? I’m always curious to hear if the there’s an answer in the image.

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