| Rev. Carolyn Lesmeister |

When I was younger, finding community seemed easy. As a child, I simply had to go into the backyard and yell the names of the neighborhood kids until someone came out to play. School, sports, and extracurricular activities provided plenty of opportunities to bond with others over shared experiences, goals, and triumphs or losses.

I spent most of my 20s in similarly structured spaces – college, volunteer corps, and grad school – where proximity to people with common interests was something that could be taken for granted. Add in the fact that most of us lived in practically identical housing, and there wasn’t much to worry about as far as what other people would think of my dorm room or apartment.

Exposure to so many people made it easy to find friends, and if I wanted company for a meal, an event, or pretty much anything, I could always find someone who would enthusiastically join me. When some students would graduate, new ones would move in, and my circle of friends naturally evolved to accommodate these changes.

Now, however, community seems a lot more elusive....

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| Anne Williamson |

Whatever word to which you're drawn - vocation, purpose, meaning, work, calling, etc. - most of us believe its creation is at least a joint one. That is, our life is not wholly predetermined. If this is the case, then, how do we, as our vocation's joint, if not sole, creators, discern what to create?

There appears to be a common theme in the collective thinking around vocational discernment: it's a dance between being and doing, letting go and pursuing, listening and to borrow Martin's words in last week's reading, "[putting one's] butt in the chair." It doesn't matter whether we believe the inspiration is g/God's, our own, or some combination of the two; the dance is the same....

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| Anne Williamson |

Invitation is tough. It involves risk, courage, vulnerability… Will they hear and like my ideas? Will he say, “Yes”? Can I communicate my vision? Am I a good leader? Appreciated member of the team? Does she value my friendship like I value hers? Does he value me? Will they care as much as I do? Will they be fair? Will she show up? Gladly? Lovingly?

Often, these are questions to which we’re not sure we want the answers. Past experiences, current insecurities, ignorance, all make us wary of extending that invitation, of extending ourselves. It’s far easier and much safer simply not to ask. 

For all we risk in invitation, though, the alternative is actually far riskier....

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| Anne Williamson |

Recently, for an article coming out in October on WAYfinding, I was asked this question, "What's your ultimate goal?" My response: 

For me, one of the most interesting and important questions in life is: To what do you live faithfully?  Because, we all live faithfully to something. As theologian Paul Tillich would say, “We all have an Ultimate Concern.” You would think this would be a question we’d be encouraged to explore in school, at work, at home – since it impacts everything we do – but it’s generally not. Often, our Ultimate Concern develops and resides in our subconscious alone.  For me, this is no good. Our Ultimate Concern, that to which we live faithfully, needs to be drawn out and evaluated: Is it what you thought? Is it worthy of your whole life?

On a deep level, this is the point of WAYfinding: to help people discover an Ultimate Concern worthy of their whole life. And then, to help them learn to live faithfully to that Concern everyday, to learn to listen to it. This, to me, is faith, and it requires a kind of bravery and permission beyond the mandatory checking of certain belief boxes.

This, then, is why, in WAYfinding, our lens, our shared commitment, is not a statement of beliefs but a process. ...

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| Anne Williamson |

I am currently reading a book titled The Courage To Be by philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich. I'm not very far along. I can't yet say, definitively, what Tillich meant by his title. I like it regardless.

We do not live in a culture that makes it easy to be. Our culture screams, "Do!" and even "Fear!" So, I agree; I think it takes courage to be. It takes courage to still our minds and remember who we are, to remember we have access to, are part of, God - or whatever you call that which is bigger than self and draws you, us, to peace and wholeness. This takes courage.

This courage I seek, often, it helps me to speak it aloud. ...

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My daughter is walking now. Yea! She's also falling now... A LOT. And not soft, little bottom plops.  Big, face-plant falls into unkind objects. I hate when she gets hurts, but it's complicated because I'm also proud of why she gets hurt: she's willing to fall.

In the below reflection by Lily Percy, she writes, "Part of living curiously is being open to failure. And part of failure is being willing to be vulnerable." 

The thing about kids is they're necessarily vulnerable. They don't have a choice.  It's either step forward or forever remain seated. For parents, this can be scary, but more so, if we let it, it's inspiring. What would happen if we each chose, or perhaps accepted, vulnerability? Would it stop holding us back? Would we, like kids, become more willing to fall, to fail, to step forward curiously? In fact, would we begin to see vulnerability as a prerequisite for growth? LEARN, LISTEN, LOVE...  

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