Last December on one of our trips to Powell’s, I picked up a daybook by Henri Nouwen called Bread for the Journey. I had long been feeling the absence of a daily reading and the discipline that comes with it so I was anxious to start but didn’t want to begin at the end with December so I waited until January 1 like the happy little rule follower that I am.
I’ve been enjoying it so far but have been somewhat surprised by how short the daily entries. In spite of their brevity I’ve found them quite thought-provoking which is exactly what I hoped for. Today’s seemed especially to speak to me in my current situation.
I’ve never felt like a terribly ambitious person. I wanted to be a teacher, I worked for that goal, and I loved my years in the classroom. The same can be said for my tenure at the church. But I’ve never been hugely motivated by power and success and clearly teaching and pastoring are not high-power, high-pay positions. So I’ve been surprised by how unmoored I have felt without a profession. While I absolutely adore having the time and space to read and connect with friends and loved ones, I miss the sense of vocation I felt in all of my positions–a sense that I was designed to do precisely this–making today’s reading poignant and meaningful.
Here it is in its entirety.
There is a great difference between successfulness and fruitfulness. Success comes from strength, control, and respectability. A successful person has the energy to create something, to keep control over its development, and to make it available in large quantities. Success brings many rewards and often fame. Fruits, however, come from weakness and vulnerability. And fruits are unique. A child is the fruit conceived in vulnerability, community is the fruit born through shared brokenness, and intimacy is the fruit that grows through touching one another’s wounds. Let’s remind one another that what brings us true joy is not successfulness but fruitfulness.