Trish Nemore, an advocate for low-income people and a Seeker since 1987, reflects on Call and commitment.
>Many years ago, a member of Seekers who was dissatisfied with her day job asked me if my day job as legal advocate for low-income people was call for me. “Call,” the notion that God calls each of us to a particular way of being in the world that is our contribution to God’s creation — is central to the theology of Seekers Church. Our structures – weekly worship, mission groups, spiritual reporting and guidance, among others – are intended to help each of us discern and follow whatever is our calling at any particular moment.
I’ve often been ambivalent in my answer to the Seekers’ question. I have a love/hate relationship with my work, sometimes feeling confident and competent and at other times feeling more like Moses yelling at God, “Why me, God? I’m not really very good at this task!” But some pull has kept me at it for over thirty years and now and then I get a glimpse of that place where my gift intersects the needs of the world (as one Seeker defines call). In the days after the cataclysmic events of September 11, 2001, I was confused about what we as a nation and as individuals were supposed to do each day. Should we abandon our “regular” lives and give ourselves over to something else entirely and, if so, what was that something else? I couldn’t see it. I began to understand that my work was what I knew how to do and what I had to contribute to the world and that it was my job, in the aftermath of 9/11, to do my job. Specializing in Medicare and Medicaid, I’m now working in the midst of the raging debates about health care reform and feel that, perhaps, much of my work life has been preparing me for this moment in the history of our country. Although the American political process may not quite resemble anyone’s image of God’s realm, I believe working toward greater justice and equality in our health care system reflects Jesus’ teachings.
But it was not to discern or receive support for my calling that I came to Seekers with my family in 1987. It was because I wanted my children – then five and eight – to have some understanding of Christianity, the religion of my birth. Seekers was good for my children, especially for my daughter, who had, through church, a wonderfully supportive group of peers with whom to navigate the treacherous waters of adolescence. The community of Seekers was warm and welcoming, though my lack of serious religious background and schooling in “God talk” made me feel a bit the outsider in certain situations. (Even today – more than twenty years later – I don’t often use the language that is common among church folk; I nonetheless feel I am a very integral part of the community.) But the workings of Seekers community were fascinating. In a thank you note to folks who had organized our then semi-annual intergenerational pajama party (aka community overnight at Wellspring Retreat Center), I expressed a longing that such a wonderful experience might be available to those with fewer resources than most Seekers have. After conversation and considerable planning, the next overnight (and several after that) included a homeless family with whom we had a relationship through For Love of Children. I was awed and most grateful for the effort that had been made to address my yearnings. I know I am not alone in that awe and gratitude.
In addition to my work, I feel some call to promote peacemaking activities in the world, though exactly how I do that is not clear. At one time, I was hopeful of supporting the promotion of peace studies in our high schools but I lack the time and energy to pursue that kind of activity. My mission group, Eyes to See, Ears to Hear, holds up and prays for those places and events in the world that we are disinclined to want to look at too closely. The mission group is prayerfully supporting a “missioner” in his peacemaking work in Lesotho. The mission group also supports sacred interracial conversations about race and diversity with members of a mostly African-American congregation that shares the building with us.
Current spirit challenges for me include facing into the prospect of retirement from regular, paid work (and, hence, putting down that part of my call) and working with resource issues of how much is enough to support my and my family’s comfortable lives versus how much I can give joyfully to meet the needs of the world. Seekers continues to be the place for me to work on these and other challenges I face.
January 9, 2010