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Center for Action and Contemplation

Becoming a Disciple of the Big Picture

How one student of Richard Rohr’s navigated a vocational crisis
November 3rd, 2023
Becoming a Disciple of the Big Picture

Tia Norman is a teacher and guide specializing in spirituality and practices anchored in the mystical teachings of the Christian contemplative tradition. She leads workshops, retreats, and courses while serving as Pastor of Awakenings, Inc., a contemplative community based in Houston, Texas. She’s interested in helping communities discover ways to weave contemplative teachings into their context. Tia lives with her children, John and Kennedy, and their two adopted pups.

I thought I was going crazy. In 2016, my dream job in sports marketing was unfolding while something within me was unraveling. I felt “called to ministry” and had no idea what that meant. It made no sense.

I wasn’t raised in church. My mother made it clear when I was very young that there were things she disagreed with in her Catholic upbringing. Meanwhile, my friends were sharing experiences connected to certain denominational rites of passage. I asked Mom what our religion was, and she stated that she wanted me to choose for myself. Now I lay me down to sleep was a prayer she frequently guided me through as a child. It served as an opening to the idea that I could talk to God.

Certainly, all these years later, God wasn’t now trying to engage in dialogue with me by causing a vocational earthquake… right? Yet the tremors in my inner world continued. The pull became stronger to explore becoming some type of spiritual “something” for which I had no name. Amid my angst, I decided to talk back.

“Ok, God. If you want me to go and do this thing, then obviously I’m going to have to go to seminary.” My statement was met with an immediate “No” and a knowing that I was to learn directly from people who were serving, loving, and leading in ways that I wanted to emulate. I wasn’t to go about obtaining a piece of paper that could give the impression that I was accessing something that wasn’t readily available for all. I would have to trust that I would find my teachers, and they would find me.

Enter Fr. Richard.

I am drawn to Fr. Richard Rohr and the CAC because something about what pours out of both feels like it speaks to the heart of an expansive truth. It’s a truth that is beyond any title or validation I may receive and more about a way I can choose to be.

As I reflect on that period of vocational crises now, as a scholarship recipient and Sendee of the 2023 Living School, I am grateful to be blessed as a Disciple of the Big Picture. That feels like a place from which I can serve, love, and pastor, a place where our undoing can allow something to be done unto us, where access matters, and where “everything belongs.”

This reflection appears in the Fall 2023 issue of the Mendicant, our quarterly donor newsletter.

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