SCALE, PURPOSE, and VISION
I found out the other day that I don’t need a single mission statement for my life. Hmmm… Viktor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning says that purpose for living might change from year to year. I don’t mean my general chief end as in “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” What I mean is that my more specific purpose, or calling, from God is likely to change. It is all about scale.
We must think in the moment, in the hour, in the day, and in the year, and even longer, perhaps past our own lifetime. And all of these scales affect the way that I live in the now. Even as the shoreline looks different to a student studying the globe than under a magnifying glass at the beach, They seem totally different things. Our focus in life varies through observation, effort , and encounters: Through contemplation, creative work and love. There are the picometers and the parsecs.
I heard a young lady the other day describe how contributing to her family farm was a bigger deal than earning a living for herself. It involved perpetuating the family legacy and passing along the farm to the next generation, on and on. Here Is such an example of large scale which may direct the bigger eddies of life. And then there is the example of the strange old gentleman that I passed on the trail last week with whom I exchanged a warm greeting as our dogs greeted one another. Such a small scale, but my present purpose was to love in the moment.
So when I say my purpose might change, I am referring to the smaller scales of life. I certainly have a life legacy to build in my family, but most of the intense work has been done since my kids are grown and almost gone. That purpose now not often reaches into the smaller scales. We people manage these scales by observation, effort, and encounters.
Everyone observes their circumstances with a mind toward the best course of effort. Some will take the time to scale a peak close by in order to observe those longer scales of life as well as the smaller ones that are more quickly assessed. These contemplatives will look past our generation into past or remote cultures, even speculating on those future in order to gain galactic perspective on human encounter. Do you think that it is possible to love someone who does not receive my love, say, if there are deceased? Or what about someone who has not yet been born? Others will be more adept at the close-up encounters, never at a loss, but often walking in tight circles without true direction, seeming to accomplish much in business and activity, but only in the perception of the moment. Yet these shorter and shallower scales are full of real moments lived in the present that are often missed by the contemplative. Even crosswords have their place in life’s purpose if solely for the experience.
It is those who have met God in one place and think that He is to be found only there who are likely to miss Him next. Copernicus tells us that we are not the center of the solar system. We can be diverted by looking only on the same place at the same scale.