It has been a month since I last checked in here regarding my search for a higher and better use of my talents. I spent about half of that on vacation in Seattle and Vancouver. However, the million dollar question of the moment was never far from my mind: Just what exactly am I going to do next in life?
I sat down with my Spiritual Director, Fr. Jason, a few days after I visited the Chicago Board of Trade. I reported back regarding the three days of silence he invited (read: challenged) me to explore. As he suspected no final, discernible result came from it but the further discovery of my talents and interests led him to suggesting I lead a project that has recently crossed his desk.
Along with being the pastor at a local church, Jason is on the Board of Directors of the Northwest Neighborhood Federation, a community organizing group serving a primarily Latino area of Northwest Chicago. St. Bartholomew is currently letting the group use an old school building on its grounds. NNF recently received a $200,000 grant from the state to establish a community learning center that can serve as a safe afterschool venue for local kids and offer myriad classes to the community such as financial literacy, GED preparation, and English As a Second Language (ESL).
The entire enterprise was preliminary when he first told me about it last month. It was fortuitous – if not slightly eerie – how it all came together. Jason heard about the grant and plans for the center only hours before I met with him. He knew it needed a project manager to help bring it to life and knew this was the kind of work I wanted to explore. He thought I would be the right person for the job and brought it to the Board and the Executive Director for discussion.
I interviewed for the job and was offered the position two days ago. I have accepted and starting November 1st, I will have eight weeks to launch the afterschool component. If that flies, we can begin looking at expanding programs.
I am as terrified as I am excited about this project. When I wrote about my Board of Trade experience, I mentioned the importance of actually getting out and seeing something firsthand instead of exploring career change in my mind. This is a different level entirely. Taking a job in an area in which I have an interest, but no experience will be trial by fire. I have two months to recruit students, design the curriculum, hire the teachers, buy supplies, and plan an open house event. Fortunately, I do not have to do it alone. There are others at NNF that will help me with this.
Does this job serve a large need in the world? Yes.
Will I be bringing together a team of people to solve a problem? Close enough.
Does it combine varied talents that, on paper, do not look like they fit together? Yes.
Is asking (and answering) rhetorical questions a cheap literary ploy? Yes.
Regardless of how this goes, I feel like my internal compass is closer to finding its “north.” It has felt off course for a while and jumping ship was the best way to make a necessary course correction. (Can I drive this metaphor on to the rocks any more?)
I suppose it really is the best way to help hone whether or not I am on the right track. But there are people and resources involved now, so the stakes feel a bit higher. Jason seems to have a lot of confidence that I am the right person for the job. Given he has been at the service of the community for some time now, I trust his judgement. If I can meet this particular need of theirs at this time, I will consider this a great success.
The whole thing is developing quickly and tends to be a bit of a blur, but the major pieces seem to be falling into place behind the scenes without much effort from me. If I have learned anything in this process, it is that the most important thing I can do is try to be as present as possible and that the lessons I am supposed to learn will reveal themselves.
The problem is, I am not always so good at that last part.