Finding the framework isn’t as easy as it may sound. Truth is, there are many frameworks out there, all beckoning that they will give meaning to the mundane, that they will make all the activities of life make sense. We live our lives day in and day out — all the activity. But what narrative helps it make sense? What narrative binds together work and rest, vocation and family, culture and faith? What narrative can give meaning to the life we live, make sense of our vocations, both common and individual? So often the activities are there – because they have to be, but the narrative is unconsidered. Why all these things?
But there is a narrative. Even the person who says he or she has no overarching narrative, who is not in the slightest conscious of why he or she does all these activities – bills, family, yard work, meetings, carpools – that person still has a narrative. It’s just an unconsidered narrative, absorbed uncritically from the world around us. We run so hard just to get through the days that we rarely consider why we are getting through them, what overarching story might give meaning to those days of activity.
Unconsidered narratives are often poor narratives, accidentally absorbed. I teach for a living, having worked as a pastor for a decade before that. Having taught in school and church contexts, I am more and more aware of the concept of “accidental learning,” that not all lessons learned are learned by the conveyance of information. Indeed, in many cases, spiritual formation is an accidental learning, caught more than taught.
But not all accidental learning is good. Many potential narratives call out from our world to give order to our lives, and we accidentally absorb many of them. That the next win will give purpose. The next conquest. Or the next escape. Or the next… what? Might there be a bigger narrative than that, a grander purpose? And, just possibly, one that would give meaning to all the stuff of everyday life?
Photos: FreeImages.com/philipp k, Luca de Luca