A memory I keep going back to during the past three months was when I found myself at sunset at the peak of the French Alps, overlooking a large valley. I’m in France this year because I’m discerning a call to the lay consecrated vocation within the Emmanuel Community. Since I’m the first American man to discern this, I’ve been ask to live with other brothers for the year in France. During our retreat last August, all the consecrated brothers ventured to the heights of the French Alps one evening. As the sun slowly set, the temperature dropped, the wind got stronger, and the stars and the moon began to shine brightly. I think we all get these moments, these “mountain-top” experience when we see and know things with much clarity. This was one of those moments: “Man, how did I get here?”
This was not my doing, something has brought me to this place, I know, right now and with all that I am, there is Another’s hand guiding and disposing all things.” Looking over the valley, seeing it, the horizon, and the sky from such a privileged vantage point, you seemingly get a glimpse of the “big picture.” What can any of us do in these moments but experience it in utter silence and interior gratitude? Silence in front of the majesty of being created, sought out, guided, and called into something outside of ourselves, beyond ourselves; awe at the gift of being human and of being divinized.
It’s moments like these that I can see, with more clarity, that I was created by Someone for a definite something. This Someone has personally been at work in my life, Who has come to me, has seen me, and Who remains: Someone is “called Emmanuel” and He calls each of us. I titled this post “the theo-drama” because this concept was the “big picture” realization experienced in the Alps. “Theo-drama” was coined by theologian Hans urs von Balthasar
1. His idea is simple: God has freely chosen to act in the history of humanity and in our own lives. It is like a drama, a theatrical narrative, that God has initiated and that He is doing. Every little thing, every day of our lives are a part of this drama. How we freely respond every day in all of the little ways of life (family, friends, work, chores, projects, blog posts) make up our part in the play. Every little moment of human life is imbued with epic meaning and potential, a dramatic interplay between God’s freedom and ours.
Sometimes you get to see it from a mountain top and it’s like being able to see the play going on beneath you, from the rafters. You get to see all of the set, the lights, the actors, and the staging from this aerial view. But most of the time, you see if from your spot on the stage and it looks like feeding your bratty kids, helping your whiny, sick spouse, preaching at Mass to a non-engaging congregation, or serving your neighbors and not knowing if it makes a difference. Yes, God is the main character, He cast your role, and He has a definite role for you to play in the narrative. But it’s all too easy to go on auto-pilot (an actor, I’m sure thinks often, “we’ve practiced this so many times already!”) or to watch from off-stage at everyone else. But in the end, He has a role for you to play that only you can do and it is a part in the most amazing adventure story you could imagine.
Our vocation is how we participate in these “roles,” or better put how we decide which character we will be in this Great Story, participating in God’s drama of Salvation History. Each moment is part of this drama, imbued with eternal, cosmic meaning and we the characters, if we’re not paying attention, we may just miss our lines. Your part is up next, what will you choose?
Please consider helping David financially during his year of discernment in France for the consecrated life in the Emmanuel Community by donating here: http://emmanuelcommunity.com/donate/
1. This video from bishop Barron explaining theo-drama (start at 7:55) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqSenlCcFws