My Search for Wisdom

[Update: I received an email today right smack in the middle of my block 3 class, my hands literally shook as I opened my account, ironically the topic of my class was the internal critic. I froze but decided to use it as a learning opportunity. I explained to my students how scared I was to apply for this retreat, my internal critic was working overtime, but I did it, because the chances of going without an application are zero. I asked a student to open the email for me. She walked up, clicked on the link, and read to the class, “We are thrilled to let you know you have been selected to attend the On Being Gathering in February, 2018. You are a part of an amazing group.” I cried. The students cheered. A moment to remember. I also know that if I had been denied I would have been surrounded by some of the most amazingly compassionate students around. We are Notre Dame.]

I stepped right out of my comfort zone and into the great abyss after submitting an application for a coveted spot at the legendary “On Being Gathering” with Krista Tippett come this February. I won’t know if I made the A list until Fall, seems unusually cruel, but I’ve downloaded several Oprah meditations, so it’s all good. Germany Kent reminds me, “happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for your life to begin and start making the most of the moment you are in.” 

Yes, I’m talking about the one and only Krista Tippett, BFF to be, long time mentor unawares. I hit that submit button on my application before I could chicken out, obsess over my essays, and second guess myself. No retreating now, pun intended. 

As an alternative to ripping out my hair while I wait, I decided to rip out all the languishing shrubs in my front planter box, and replace them with some new and exciting flora. Sort of like planting a calling but these might actually grow. After spending my entire paycheck on a variety of “color spots” I settled into digging holes and pulling up old roots (this is so metaphoric, but I’m sure you noticed). The dirt was rock hard which turned into a war between me and the mud. I lost. After hours of laboring in the hot sun, I tried to stand erect, and was rewarded with a searing pain that rippled through my entire body like an electrical shock. The popcorn and chocolate were purely medicinal. 

“The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability, how we become larger and more courageous and more compassionate through our intimacy with disappearance,” says David Whyte. I’m sure Krista was beyond excited to see my application come through the On-Being portal, probably clapping her hands, calling all her friends. Next thing you know I’ll be bombarded with new twitter connections and friend requests. What can you do? 

If all goes to plan, I’ll be nestled in the Santa Cruz mountains come February, lounging with Krista on a sunbrella sofa, sipping coffee, Becoming Wise. Yes, you heard that right, you have to apply, only 350 spots are available, and apparently they are very selective. If accepted, a personal invitation will arrive in the mail, if not, it’s straight to applicant purgatory, stuck in limbo for all eternity. No pressure Krista. 

It’s not merely a retreat, but a spiritual quest, in search of new life. The plan is to install, “virtues to embody as ways of being that lead to deeper connections, moral imagination, and inhabiting our own truths while making space for other to inhabit theirs.” What’s good for the goose is good for the gander so to speak, spreading the “Good News” is part of the deal. I’ve been studying the evangelist for twenty years and now I get to be one.

We’ll be exploring the “raw material of wisdom in our lives,” let me translate, painful, like pulling out a deeply embedded splinter with my teeth. The relief could be profound. Jesus mentioned this a couple a thousand years ago, “first remove the splinter from your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your sister’s eye.” Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck where you do not belong, warns Narayan Murthy. 

There was also a piece in the announcement about fermentation, but I think they were referring to spiritual evolution, not wine. I believe there might be a connection between the two, first miracle and all, but this could be wishful thinking. 

Participants will bring this wealth of knowledge, practices, and the influence of newly formed relationships back to their communities. A win win for all. Something to tweet about for sure. 

If I make the cut expect a tsunami of information to come waving through my Blog, Facebook, and Twitter feed come February, along with a plethora of new course material for my classes at ND. Seth Godin will be speaking, along with Maria Povova, David Whyte, Naomi Shihab Nye, Omid Safi, Jennifer Bailey, and Parker Palmer. 

OMG – all my favorites in one place – I’m hyperventilating. I’ll have to go on a crash diet, buy all new clothes, pluck my eyebrows into two neat sections. Okay, I’m projecting, I’m sure they’ll love me just the way I am, unibrow and all. 

The last opening I applied for was a teaching position at Notre Dame. Thank god I had a good reputation with the students because one of the administrators said my interview was “pedantic” (my word not hers). Apparently I’m too honest and have a tendency to ramble when nervous. Isn’t that what teachers do best? It’s been ten glorious years and now my ramblings are referred to as pastoral. 

All I can say is my mom would be proud. I made the proverbial leap today, let’s hope the parachute deploys, because the distance between me and total disaster is narrow indeed. I hear it might be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle but then again it’s only possible if you try. I’ll keep you posted as to my purgatorial status. 

“I realized something on the ride. I realized if I wait until I’m not scared to try new things, then I’ll never get to try them at all.” Marie Sexton

Tweets of recommendation @kristatippett on my behalf are highly encouraged! 

What are you risking this summer besides a sunburn? Looking forward to hearing from you. I’ll feel much better if I’m not the only one standing around in my underwear.

Living in the Gap, drop in anytime.

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