Now, I think they meant if I wasn't working at a job as a teacher. Because as far as TEACHING goes, I can't help myself. Even when I visited my lovely 9 year old nephew a while back, I found myself showing him all sorts of maths short cuts and sharing explanations of tricky spellings: before I knew it, the poor child had endured an hour's tutoring. (My lovely sister-in-law was pleased and, I think, quite grateful!).
So, if I wasn't teaching or tutoring or... I said I'd like to go into offices as a logistics troubleshooter, flying in like Superman to solve their organisational issues. I've had various friends bemoan the cumbersome systems which they have to try to work with and I have been amazed that many organisations seem less organised than the worst class room. So I'd quite like to have a go at that.
However, I realised afterward that I'd quite like to write Bible studies - ha ha, I'd need to do a lot more studying first of course. Or Christian articles - 'How to' pieces on inviting ladies round for a prayer breakfast, or making Christian themed cards, or sharing Jesus in the workplace, for example. Or just perhaps a simple reflection as a guide to prayer. And if I got paid for doing that - well, even better.
But then I read a post on facebook by Anne Lamott, and I thought, yes, that's me as well, that's what I would do - with a little bit of tweaking...
"During the chat at peopl.com, someone asked what job I would like if I wasn't a writer...
I'd like to sit out in the very quiet courtyard at St. Andrew Presbyterian, with a bowl of cherries, and a bowl of M&M's as communion elements, and talk to people one at a time.
I'd teach people what we tell our Sunday School kids, that they are loved and chosen, AS IS. My grandson says things like, "There's another boy in with class with beautiful brown skin, like me." And he's four. If women confided that they don't swim even when it's very hot because they have tummy roll or jiggly thighs, I would show them mine, and we'd go off to swim together in our terrible underwear together, even if it was just in a little kid's inflatable pool in the projects across the street.
If people were grieving, I would sit with them while they cried, and I would not say a single word, like "Time heals all," or "This too shall pass." I would practice having the elegance of spirit to let them cry, and feel like shit, for as long a they need to, because tears are the way home--baptism, hydration--and I would let our shoulders touch, and every so often I'd point out something beautiful in the sky--a bird, clouds, the hint of a moon. Then we'd share some cherries and/or M&M's, and go find a little kid who would let us swim in his or her inflatable pool. I'd tell the sad person, "Come back next week, I'll be here--and you don't have to feel ONE speck better. It's a come-as-you-are meeting, like with God, who says, "You just show up, my honey."
If people want to know the secret of writing and art, I would say, "Write badly. That's what we all do. Just do it. No one cares if you write or paint or dance, so YOU'd better. Nevr give up. read more poetry. Then find someone who will edit your work for you, like a friend or associate who needs someone to edit his or her work; or a teacher; or someone you pay, if you can. Without this, you are doomed. No one can help you if you don't have a tough and respectful reader. Not even Jesus can help you. But you are still loved and chosen. Here, have some cherries."
I would also be available in the courtyard to register voters. This is what we re going to do when we're very old and the ice caps are like Slurpees: we are going to stick together, huddle together for warmth, register voters, and share our cherries and chocolate. I promise, this will be enough--always has been, always will be.
Also, I would subtly be trying to suck people into coming to St. Andrew on Sunday to worship with us. (services at 11:00.). You will end up feeling TOO loved, and maybe a little overly chosen. It's incredibly sweet.
I would tell people that no matter how awful their thoughts and behavior, God HAS to love them--that's His job. And I am Exhibit A--God has to love me, and this is not my fault. I didn't trick Him or Her, or hide the grossest stuff. God just loves; period. Go figure. It's a great system. My pastor Veronica says that when you want God to enter your life, you don't invite Her to have tea in your living room, which you've completely cleaned for the occasion. You have to invite her all the way in, and let her see the closets, as is, AND--this is the bad news--you have to show her the Bad Drawer. The one in the kitchen, or in your bedside table--you know the one I mean, the one filled with thumbtacks and patches for inner tubes, and the broken dog collar, litter and stuff you couldn't give away--the dump would barely take it--that proves how insane. You have to pull it all the way open, and say, "This is part of the package..." There won't be anything there god doesn't see every day. God, will say, "Dude. Thanks for showing me. Let's get to work. Hey--are the any of those cherries left?"
This to me would be a perfect job, sitting with God and you, at the safest place on the earth for me, being real, together, shoulders touching, looking up at the sky from time to time."
Me too, Anne. Me too.