It seems a lot of people lately have been asking me what I plan to do when I’m finished at Yale. My stock answer is “God only knows,” which is, in fact, true.
But the question obscures a larger point I learned and re-learned while in South Africa.
Before I left for Mthatha, someone told me and my group of missionaries at training, “Now don’t think you can start making plans for what you can do when you come back. Don’t think that you’ll be the same person after your year overseas. Don’t think you can just check off this box in your life and then return to life as usual. You have to be open to how the experience will change who you are.” This was wise advice, with its Jean Vanier-esque emphasis on the importance of becoming. (There are hundreds of people I’d have given the Nobel to this year before Obama and Vanier is high on that list.)
I, of course, completely disregarded this sage advice. At that training, I was looking past Mthatha and preparing for x when I returned. I forget what x was but it was something definite.
But then a few months into my time in Mthatha, I realized I needed to stay a second year. And then during my second year I decided I needed to go to divinity school. Two years ago, Yale Divinity School was not two years away. Yet my time in South Africa made it seem like a logical next step.
With this in mind, it seems somewhat foolish to say, “OK, this is what I’ll be doing in three years when I’m finished at Yale.” There is something to be said for pre-planning and having a little foresight but there’s a lot more to be said for allowing the journey you are on to help determine where you are going.
Have I mentioned before how much I believe the “journey is the destination”?