A few months ago, on a silent directed retreat, I spoke to my assigned spiritual director about something I’ve only shared with a few people: my personal call from God to be a “gentle prophet” in this world.
The director tried to talk me out of this. She tried to tell me that prophets are never gentle, and that if I wanted to embrace this call of mine, I’d have to drop the “gentle” part of it. Prophets, she said, are people like Jeremiah, hated by those to whom they preach and despised for their message.
At the time, I nodded my head in agreement. Surely, someone who had been directing retreats and retreatants for so many years must know a lot more about prophets than me. And yet, her words have stuck with me, challenged me, made me think. And I’ve come to this conclusion. In my heart of hearts I know that she was incorrect. Gentle prophets can, and do, exist, and must continue to do so in this modern world.
This morning, I ran across a wonderful piece by Ron Rolheiser about this very thing. Rolheiser wrote about my kind of prophet back in 1995. You can read his article here:
As I sit here this morning considering all that Rolheiser says, I begin to see this gentle “prophet-ness” as a sort of bridge. The only constant in most of our lives is change. We move from place to place. We leave jobs, and find new ones. We get married, have children, and do our best to adapt to their constant change and growth, all the while ourselves constantly changing and growing older. Sometimes, our marriages end. Or we sever ties with people we have loved. Or we suffer deep personal losses that seem to make no sense at all.
As Rolheiser says, the task of the prophet today is “to keep incarnate the wide, all-embracing heart of God, a heart that has many rooms.” To embrace change and continue to love through it. To bridge the hurt and anger and indignation that inevitably comes from living. And to respond with gentleness and compassion.
Today, I pray that my evolving sense of purpose continues to be molded and shaped by God. I pray that providence allows me to live out my purpose with renewed commitment and love. And I pray for each of us to know, in a deeply personal way, God’s all-embracing heart.
I invite you to do the same.