Our congregational facilitator, Geoffrey Gill, has been exploring his own vocation of vlogging. It is an honor to share on our CCV blog another inspirational video of his. It has been an opportunity to see through Geoffrey’s perspective of the world and how he inspires us to continue to show up as our authentic selves and to use our voice and actions to care for our neighbors around us in brave and powerful ways. Please enjoy!
A journey of self-discovery and empowerment! In my latest vlog, I delve into the impact of body language and the importance of being true to yourself. This thought-provoking vlog was inspired by MLK Day and will leave you feeling inspired to embrace your power, find your voice, and follow your heart. — Geoffrey Gill
Have you ever left a meeting and the minute you sign off or walk away you just smile as a wave of gratitude washes over you? That happened to me after meeting with Jaelyn Arndt, an Augsburg alum and current Assistant Director of Communications at the NCAA.
We at the Christensen Center for Vocation (CCV) were intrigued to hear Jaelyn’s story after a tweet last summer where she answered the question “What is your calling?” She credits the Auggie support system for helping her find her dream. We, at CCV are curious to know the various ways we see vocation lived out on a daily basis in the lives and work of our Augsburg colleagues, students, alums, and our neighbors in the Cedar-Riverside and Seward neighborhoods.
By vocation we mean the ways we are compelled, empowered, challenged, freed, and responsible to show up (individually and collectively) in ways that help our neighbors and neighborhoods thrive. We believe every individual and every institution experiences a vocational tug.
This is a story about how an Augsburg alum became an engaged neighbor through learning about her own vocation.
Jaelyn graciously agreed to meet with me (Ellen Weber) via Zoom from Indiana and share her story.
When Jaelyn came to Augsburg to tour, she was guided by our Volleyball Head Coach, Jane Becker and Assistant Coach, Jennifer Jacobs. She walked away from that tour years ago thinking, “These are my people!” So after her senior year at Washburn, she started at Augsburg and was part of the volleyball team.
Throughout her time at Augsburg, Jaelyn leaned on her volleyball teammates and staff like family. “Because it is a D3 school, people actually cared about me and my wellbeing.” The volleyball team was a place where Jaelyn learned who people are. “Before the season started, our coach would give us working packets about our teammates. We had workshops where we learned each other’s love languages, how we like to be approached, and how we give feedback. We started our practices sharing what we were grateful for or sharing how our day was. It mattered who we are and that we knew who actually was on the court with us.” Continue reading ““Learning My Calling of Storytelling” at Augsburg: Jaelyn Arndt’s Vocation Story”→
Dr. Christina Erickson, Social Work on January 24th, 2023
Reading: By Anne LaMott
My coming to this vocation did not start with a leap but rather a series of staggers from what seemed like one safe place to another. Like lily pads, round and green, these places summoned and then held me up while I grew. Each prepared me for the next leaf on which I would land, and in this way I moved. I can see how flimsy and indirect a path they made. Yet each step brought me closer to the verdant pad on which I stay afloat today.
Good morning – I have been a social worker for 30 years and I felt like that gave me an easy out on this vocation stuff –easy, it was my work – which I described as making the world a better place. Becoming a social work professor was a natural evolution of that original vocational path. I was set. No more discoveries to be made. What I never expected, was a mid-life vocation that would grip me for more than 10 years. Like Ann Lamott describes, I can look back and see how I leapt from lily pad to lily pad through the course of my life, never knowing that those experiences would become so important to a mid-life vocation I couldn’t have imagined.
Lily pad 1…..My mother’s spanking – so futile, so “not into it”, her swings and misses. My own wriggling away. My father’s spanking – so scary, so shaming, having to stop himself because he was big and strong. My 3 older brothers spankings, – so harsh, so much anger in both directions.
My family of origin, the family I grew up in, was happy, I felt loved, we were loud, we laughed, 5 children and 2 parents who were high school sweethearts, pregnant before they were married despite strict Catholic upbringings, we were fine and good and my parents spanked us. My parents hit us. They never hit each other, they never hit the dog, but spanking a child on the butt….that was acceptable, anytime, parental decision alone, no child input needed. In spanking, the perpetrator is always right and the victim is always wrong.
Lily pad 2….my high school boyfriend. We met in the tennis module of gym class. We were separated by gender (this was 1984) through the whole unit until the end when the ranked boys played the ranked girls. He was ranked first in his gender and I in mine. We had to battle it out, and while I lost handily, it was love, love. We started dating. 2 years into our high school romance I punched him in the stomach in my parent’s basement family room. I have no memory of why, but I remember the event vividly. My anger, my punching, the look on his face.
Lily pad 3 – I go to graduate school in social work and begin my field experience at The Initial Intervention Unit in child and family services. We were the first social workers to visit a home or school with a child abuse investigation. I see the effects of hitting on little bodies. I see the pain and shame of parents who have to talk to us. I feel their struggle, I see their love for their children.
Vocation is a term we use a lot around Augsburg. It can be vague. It can mean different things to different people. It can feel elusive and slippery.
An attempt to explain vocation by Jeremy Myers: “You have probably heard the word vocation used to talk about one’s job. It is sometimes used to describe post-secondary educational institutions designed to train individuals for certain trades such as electrician, welder, plumber, carpenter, mechanic, etc. We use the term differently at Augsburg. It can be associated with your job, but it is also much more than that. Vocation is the way you are equipped, empowered, called, and driven to make our world a better place for all living things.”
On most 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month, some of our favorite members of Augsburg University’s staff and faculty share their stories of their own vocations during chapel worship. Vocation is all around us, lived out in the here and now and in all departments and spaces at Augsburg. Together we can start uncovering vocation in all our lives. Learn more about Vocation here.
We have been grateful to the staff and faculty who are willing to share their stories with our community. We are especially grateful to those who have already shared their stories the past two months. Paula O’Loughlin, Mike Grewe, NajeebaSyeed and Kao Nou Moua.
We hope you will join us this coming Tuesday, December 6th for our final vocation chapel of the year, “We Die, We Break, We Love A Jewish Story of Call and Response” Dr. Audrey Lensmire.
Check out the recording of Kao Nou Moua’s vocation below and the past vocation chapels in our recent blog posts.
Kao Nou Moua:
“For some of us, our gifts and skills are still budding. For others, our gifts are in full bloom. And for others, our gifts are giving and giving. No matter what stage of budding we are, keep turning yourself out, and into the world. It’s amazing to realize that what the world needs is just the very thing you’re really good at.”
As a way of teaching congregations how to engage their neighbors and neighborhoods, we introduce them to a method we call the Public Church Framework. This framework consists of four movements including accompaniment, interpretation, discernment, and proclamation. These movements bleed into one another and collectively are cyclical, or a spiral, in that they are never completed but rather lead to further and deeper practice of these movements. We like to think of this framework as descriptive of what we do when we are attentive to God and to our neighbor rather than prescriptive of some “one true way” to be in ministry.
In the beginning of October, we gathered together as a learning community to explore the artform of proclamation. But what is proclamation and why does it matter?
There is a concept within the philosophy of language called performative utterances. This idea was developed by philosopher John L. Austin in the 1940’s and 1950’s . He was arguing against the notion that all words and statements are only descriptive or evaluative. He uncovered certain phrases and uses of words that are not intended to be descriptive at all, but are rather intended to be performative. A classic example he would use is the utterance, “’I name this ship the Queen Elizabeth’ – as uttered when smashing the bottle against the stem.” Other examples would include, “I now pronounce you equal partners in marriage”, or “I forgive you.” These words and phrases are not describing or evaluating anything, rather they are doing things.
This idea of performative utterances helps us understand what we mean when we talk about the word of God. God’s words are performative utterances. They do things. In the first chapter of Genesis, God is not describing or evaluating what the cosmos has or will look like. Instead, God is calling the cosmos into being. “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light” (Genesis 1:3, NRSV). But the performative utterances of God do not only show up as spoken words throughout scripture. In the second creation narrative, God is not speaking a word – only acting. “In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up – for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground . . . A river flows out of Eden to water the garden . . .” (Genesis 2:4b-6, 10, NRSV). There are times in scripture where God’s creative force is shared with the world through performative utterances, and there are times in scripture where God’s creative force is water.
September 22nd was the annual Bernhard M. Christensen Symposium. Jeremy Myers shared a talk called “From Nowhere to Now Here”. In it, he encourages us all to see vocation as something that roots us in the present moment for the sake of the neighbor. If you missed it or want to listen to it again check it out below.
Here are some of our favorite quotes from the talk:
“It’s not a journey from point A to point B, where you have to leave this place to go to that place. Instead I want to invite you into a journey that’s really more about becoming rooted deeply in the place where we already find ourselves.”
“Vocation is ultimately not about you it’s about the space that exists between you and your neighbor.”
It is “the quest of inquiry to figure out who our neighbor is and what it is our neighbor needs from us to thrive. It’s not a journey where you need to go on a quest to find some vocation that’s hidden out there in the future from you. It’s an invitation into the right here and the right now. That vocation is something that saves us from the nowhere plants us firmly right here with one another in this moment of time to do this good work that we’ve been given to do today. and we get to do that together and I think that’s pretty great.”
“When we are able to live as our full selves, we can shape opportunities for those around us. Seeing others being able to live as their own authentic selves provided a pathway for me to do the same. Finding my vocational passion was possible because I had a supportive community. And that is why I try, to the extent that I am able to do so, work to provide space and community for others to do the same.”
“Being oneself is a superpower we can all access. When you are doing what you believe matters, you can find joy, symmetry and beauty even if you are not always feeling other positive energy. You get to know yourself and what is right much better and at a deeper level when your ego is not fed, when you do what needs to be done simply because it is needed.”