For this month’s blog, I have decided to share a section of my opening chapel talk given to students at Midway on September 1. As my post last month noted, I have chosen this word “quest” around which to frame my speaking and writing to the community this year. This chapel talk, titled “Hey, Hero, Listen for the Call!” used the famous biblical passage of Moses and the Burning Bush from Exodus 3:1-17.
Simply defined, a quest is “a long or arduous search for something.”
Now, you are actually more familiar with quests than you might realize. The heroes’ tales we know well, from ancient mythology to the present day, follow a general structure associated with quests.
First, a hero to be is called to partake in a journey to accomplish a great or important task.
Next, the hero departs the comforts of the world he or she has known and travels into the unknown.
As the journey unfolds, the hero encounters an array of challenges and setbacks which test her courage.
At critical junctures, influential and essential mentors appear to offer aid to the quester.
Ultimately, having successfully completed his or her quest, the hero returns home a transformed person with new wisdom to be shared with others.
In my chapel talks to come, we will look at these different parts of the hero’s quest. Because, my friends, you are in the earliest days of your own 9 month quest also known as the school year. Your greatest reason for being at Parish, in fact, is to prepare you upon leaving here to chart your own hero’s journey – one which will impact the world in a profound way.
We must start today, then, at the beginning and with this question: Are you ready and willing to hear and accept a call?
I mean, you could choose to sit idly by the next nine months oblivious to or afraid of an emergent opportunity to transform yourself or something you care about for the better. You could, should you wish, choose to just survive and cross off each day until summer comes again. Or, like the hero you most admire, you can choose to answer the call and journey toward an alluring vision for yourself – or for the teams, clubs, or organizations which mean the most to you.
Should you choose to pursue a quest, though, you must first be awake and alert.
Because, you see, you don’t know from where your call will come or when it will beckon.
Sometimes it comes from a positive place: your art teacher notices your interest and talent during class and calls on you to consider applying for an upcoming art competition.
Sometimes your call comes from pure happenstance. The new student in the grade sits near you in the first days of school and sends clear signals that she could use a hand finding her way at Parish.
Sometimes your call will even come after something bad or difficult has happened. Perhaps you miss a key shot in an important game or miss out on the lead role in the play you coveted. A loss can call you to rethink how you might prepare better or differently.
And sometimes, as scripture teaches us today, our call will come from the unlikeliest of places.
A voice – God’s voice – beckoned to Moses from a burning bush of all places. His difficult and important task was to lead the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt and return them to a “good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” What a beautiful vision that must have been for the enslaved Hebrews!.
But hearing the call and saying “I choose to accept the quest” are two different things. Scripture tells us Moses was 80 years old at the time he received his call from the bush on top of Mt. Horeb. He doubted his ability to lead the Hebrews home, saying to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” He almost didn’t accept the call.
Fortunately, though, Moses did accept his call. He parted the waters and led God’s people home.
Where are you headed this year? How will you transform yourself or help carry a group of which you are a part its own “land of milk and honey?”
Will you be ready to hear a call when it comes?