Making Plans

One of the things I had to do this week was to write my annual report to the dean.  In addition to reporting on my accomplishments for the past year (my first year here at St. Thomas), the form asked for a discusion of my plans for the next two to five years.   I sighed when I saw that question and wrote the rest of the report, leaving that for last.

I’ve always been uncomfortable when asked (as I have been either in interviews or in other contexts) to project out where I see myself in five or ten years.  I’m guessing whoever is asking – in this case, my dean – wants to hear something more specific than, “I plan to continue to labor with Christ to transform the world to Kingdom in whatever way God calls me to do so.”  But, whether or not we articulate it this way out loud, at the deepest level, how else can one answer the question?  If one has made the decision that one’s life belongs to God, then life is a continual process of discernment of how one best can contribute to the life of the world, to conribute to God’s plan for the world.  That process, at least for me, does not give me a clear blueprint for what 5 or 10 years out will look like.   And that means that I’m not sure I can ever, with any certainty, say anything more than: I’m where God wants me to be right now…or at least where, after careful discernment, I believe God wants me to be… and will be open to where I may be called at another time. 

I thought it fitting in light of these reflections, that the first reading for Mass this morning, from the letter of St. James, says: “You have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow….Instead [of making plans] you should say, ‘If the Lord wills it, we shall live to do this or that.'”