“Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?
is was officially in a rut.
A few weeks ago I wrote a letter to my dying Grandfather. In a letter back, he expressed a sentiment I’ve heard again and again over the past few years. Find a way to use your gift.
At some point in my life I decided I was a writer. Or rather, God showed me I was a writer. Since then I’ve embraced the role as a storyteller at times and disavowed it at others, vacillating through periods of intense love and purpose for the langauge, and prejudicial malcontent for my ability to feel stories so strongly. It has led me to experiences and jobs I never thought I’d have, and shown me worlds and made me contacts I would have otherwise never come to know. And yet, years after the fact I’ve recognized that writing is a very integral part of my being, I languish in a half-hearted attempt to connect with an audience over the most trivial of topics imaginable; food.
I have been thinking the past few weeks of giving this blog up. Once a nationally acclaimed sportswriter, other times a poet with great potential, now I seem little more than a freelance food blogger who has grown uncomfortable with living in the vanity and hedonism of taste. At the same time, I know there’s something which appeals to me about a blog of my own, and about the content and stories behind food. It’s that sense that I have a voice and, just maybe, an audience. who shares the value of humor, family, creativity, and faith. Touched by so many in my own life, wishing to let the world know that there are people like me and that there is hope that is very much alive, I feel called to reach out in whatever way I can, to whomever I can, through the best way I know how. Or at least I felt that way. But more and more, overcome by self-doubt (and a prevailing sense that nobody cares, so why waste my time?) I pause, choosing to wait and do nothing than to do anything at all.
Maybe my parish priest, Father Matt, knows just what to say (or maybe God really does speak to us in our times of most need) but it strikes me that this past weekend’s reading really gets to the root of what I’m feeling, and also speaks to that fundamental urge to answer the question of “now what?” when we are feeling hopeless, or feeling like we have no other choice save giving up.
For those of you who are not Christian, the Ascension (the feast for which Catholics celebrated this past weekend) is when Christ returns to Heaven following his time on Earth after the Resurrection. It’s a happy moment, no doubt, but also one in which the Apostles must have released a collective “oh shit, now what?” Their leader and Savior gone again, they feel like their time on Earth is at an end, and their roles as Apostles over.
But, as the Angels tell them, and remind us, we should not be caught “looking at the sky.” Giving up, and going into some holding pattern of plodding through whatever we’re not called to do, is not the answer. We still have value, still have a mission. We don’t know the hour, and in truth, it could be very far off, but by picking up our labors and going forward in whatever we’re called to do, we’re serving a greater mission. For ourselves, for others, and yes, I believe in certain tasks, for God.
And if I can continue to take these insights, and share the few examples of “keep on keeping on” messages that I am blessed to receive in my life, I will. Even amidst trying personal times for my family, and even amidst a combative cultural climate and the personal defeats of a young person trying to find his way in a struggling job market.
I’m not giving up on the food. Because in the food I can see the humor and the creativity and the charity in life. In the food I can see the connection between men and the kind of healing we as a people and a country need. I’m not giving up on the food, because I’m not giving up on writing, and of living. And I hope, in whatever you’re called to do, that God sends you that Angelic voice that asks, “why are you looking at the sky?”