The majority of my life has been spent in formation. My childhood, the time I spent in college, and the three years I spent at seminary were all largely focused on shaping who I would become and what I would do. Though I may have accomplished some things during these years, and probably made an impact on some people’s lives, the first quarter-century of my life was primarily oriented towards preparing me to become a full adult member of society.
From infancy to around age twenty-five, my parents, teachers and adult friends all put a lot of emphasis on helping me to discover my latent gifts and passions. They did their best to give me the skills I needed to function well in the adult world. Even seminary was a part of this process, giving me the background and tools I needed to be a well-formed adult Christian. There was a lot I did not learn in Sunday School.
This transition is a wonderful one. For my entire adolescence, I was chomping at the bit to do great things in the world, to have a meaningful impact. I knew that I was in a formative phase, but I wanted nothing more than to skip formation and go straight into adult action! The time has come.
And these outward life changes have a deep spiritual dimension, as well. What is the impact of moving from a life that is primarily concerned with preparation to a new phase of existence that is primarily concerned with action? What is the deeper meaning of this shift from the “inward” to the “outward”?
If that happened, it would be a disaster. Taking time for contemplation has higher stakes than ever before. In this new phase of life, I have so much more capacity to do good – or harm – than ever before. As my activity in the world increases, it is all the more crucial that I remain grounded in the Spirit of Truth.