Like breadcrumbs leading us back home, the sign posts along the way to sacred purpose come in many sizes, shapes, and forms. They appear in the midst of diverse challenges, experiences, and occurrences. And for me, they appeared this week as I participated in Charleston’s Moja Arts Festival for the very first time ever.
Over the week, I participated in events that resonated with my soul and served as sign posts directing me to sacred purpose. From the opening parade, reception, and theater performance of Fences to the art exhibition and Dance of the Ancestors at the City Gallery, I felt at home. However, it was the Arting with Hip Hop and Big Daddy Kane event, the Literary Corner with Kwame Alexander, and the Moja Live! Evidence Dance Company experience at the wharf that helped me remember some things that I already knew.
You see, when I entered seminary about 15 years ago, I felt like everyone else knew why they were there except me. What I came to realize is that there is no “one size fits all,” “cookie-cutter”, “in the box” formula, path, or experience for sacred purpose. Yet, the expectation many times is for people to fit into the role, shape, or box that society, institutions, and even our egos have constructed.
Succumbing to peer pressure to fit in is not just a problem for teenagers and college students, but as quiet as it’s kept, many adults struggle with it, too. It happens when we try to fit into other people’s or our own perceptions of “success” without discovering our sacred purpose.
The unveiling of sacred purpose, however, tends to come at inopportune times, at least for me and for Abram according to Genesis 12:1-9. In fact, sacred purpose usually does not come with a road map or clear sense of destination; is rarely a direct path; and always requires us to get out of our comfort zone, to surrender control, and to really trust God. Everyone’s sacred purpose may be distinct and unique, but at the core of them all is our universal sacred purpose–to love.
So, what did my experience at the Moja Arts Festival confirm that I already knew? Well, it confirmed that my sacred purpose is artistic, story-telling, and truth-speaking at the intersection of creativity, spirituality, and justice. It confirmed that it is creating safe spaces for the Spirit to connect minds and hearts.
Actually, as I was reminded of my high school years, I realized that art has always been at the center of my sacred purpose. It was during those years when I was a debutante for the Alpha Kappa Alpha (A.K.A.) sorority that I recited a portion of a monologue for the debutante ball. In that moment and through those five or six lines, I felt like I was created for that experience, and still remember the first few lines to my monologue … “I am Makeda, ruler of Sheba…”
Similarly, while in college, I participated in the School of Architecture pageant, and performed an original soliloquy as my talent. Once again, I had this overwhelming feeling that I was created for those storytelling moments and I placed as the first runner up in the pageant.
Dance, however, has been a passion for as long as I can remember, but it seemed to be at odds with my Baptist upbringing. So, experiencing dance in worship for the first time as a young adult, and being a part of a dance ministry helped create space for my sacred purpose. It created space for me to be who I am, and in so doing, I am able to encourage and inspire others to be who they are. The experience with Evidence Dance Company this week especially brought the passion, creativity, and energy of sacred purpose back to the surface.
On this journey, I’ve had to learn how to engage in a delicate dance with God–taking one inspired step at a time; realizing that we don’t have to know all the details, i.e. relinquish the illusion of control; and learning to be “be still and know.” That is no small feat, but we are all called to move out of our comfort zones, and to recall those moments that we were created for, where we feel most alive, where our hearts and minds are connected and aligned, where we can see how God has been connecting the dots, and where we can discern how God is uniquely calling us now.
So, Be True to Your Call…
Be true to your call!
It’s easy to look for and see
What isn’t, what was, and what could be
In the world, in myself, in humanity,
And if I allow it, it can undermine my identity.
It can constrict and impede my liberty;
It can delay or even deny my destiny.
If I allow it, it can make me stumble and fall;
It can cause me to malfunction and stall.
It can push me to the point of going AWOL.
So, I have to be true to my call
No matter how crazy it looks or seems,
I must remember that our God redeems.
If I keep my hand in God’s unchanging hands
He will give me the strength and power to stand.
So, I do not despise beginnings that are small,
For despite the opposition, Nehemiah stayed on the wall,
Remaining steadfast, immovable, and true to his call.
In the same way, you and I must be true to our call.
Be True to Your Call was written to accompany the sermon below by the same title based on Abram’s call in Genesis 12:1-9.