Tag Archives: vocation

The Antidode to Exhaustion

Your psalmist in Edinburgh

Returning home from 11 days in the U.K., I felt tired.

It was a delightful trip with my BFF Michael. Just the right length of time, and I felt excited to be back with Trish and Sam and Willow (wife, son and dog, respectively), but I was surprised how kind of burned out I felt. Jet lag? Vaca hangover? This felt different than the familiar re-entry from travel that I’m so accustomed to as a touring musician.

After almost 2 weeks away from my work with the psalms, I sighed and set to work on my weekly podcast nugget for Pulpit Fiction.

And something in me woke up.

I leaned in with sparkle-y attention, I hungrily studied, I joyously sang, I delighted to translate. What a surprise! What a Relief!

I thought I needed rest. What I needed was the work of my heart.

Poet David Whyte writes in Crossing the Unknown Sea a word he received at a critical moment in his life: “The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness.”

As you read this now, if you are burned out, discouraged or lost, welcome the companion of David Whyte’s story. This excerpt is probably my favorite work of his and among my favorite literature on the planet.

Psalm 86 sings, “Give me an undivided heart.” With gratitude for my own vocation as a psalmist– exceedingly nerdy as it is– I wish you the dense, crystalline, sustainable sense of purpose that both energizes your life and serves the world.


An Open Letter to my Clergy Friends

(Laity please read, too). 🙂

Hey, Revs, it’s nearing the end of the 40 days, tipping now toward Holy Week.

If you have a moment, I’m writing to bless you and appreciate you.

I’ll keep this short because although Lent is about renewal and intimacy with the Holy One, your role in the community makes it one of the busiest seasons of the year. In fact, I can hardly believe you’re taking time to read a blog!

You have a unique– better yet, peculiar–place in your community, both set apart and set among. Your role is often to make space for people of God to pray, grow, study, discern, heal, wonder, grieve, celebrate, worship and work. And somehow you tend to your own spiritual life.

Thank you. I don’t know how you do it.

People call you their pastor. You are to them a friend, spiritual guide, teacher, mentor, coffee buddy, prayer partner, icon of holy love. You beautifully weave among the congregation’s requests, needs and expectations to offer real presence. It’s amazing to notice, isn’t it?

Thank you. I celebrate your calling with you today!

Through Lent, many of you have had an additional weekly service and sermon to craft. Whether you’re part of a big-ass fully-staffed church or a solo rural context, it’s not uncommon to see you at over 60 working hours these days. That’s without the funerals and pastoral emergencies that come up. With The Three Days on the horizon, you may be looking at an additional 4-7 services to lead and sermons to write.

Please remember to breathe, eat and sleep. You are a real person with a real life just like the rest of us. I sometimes worry that any or all of us might forget that.

I firmly believe– and I don’t use that word all that often– the ordained life is a particular and rare calling. As certain as I am not built for such a vocation, I honor it when I see it.

Even before I entered seminary I knew my calling is to be Not Ordained. I’m way too high-maintenance. I’m not willing to set aside my callings as family guy and artist. I value my selfishness, my heresies and my solitude. I don’t juggle or spin plates well. (Yes, there’s a list).

Even as each of us is built for a particular walk of life, today I recognize and thank God for you.

You are brilliant in the creative ways you navigate your calling. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

May these final days of Lent open to renewal for your calling and unprecedented joy for your role set apart and set among.

May you release and let go, invite and receive.

May you celebrate your life in light of this peculiar and vital calling that is to me and to many a threshold of Christ’s presence.

Amen.