Are Our Questions Big Enough?

Expansive Ski

Expansive Sky

I ask you to learn to hold and, this lovely coordinating conjunction, that by definition holds two equal parts of a sentence together. After all, isn’t that what life invites us to do more often than not, hold more than one thing that is dear and near to us. I ask you this Lenten Season to hold two things in your heart: to not take yourself too seriously–choosing joy; AND to consider the questions of your heart that you do take seriously: are they big enough, worthy enough for your life?

St Francis de Sales wrote On Seeing Things in Perspective: “We will soon be in eternity, and then we will see how inconsequential all the things of this world are and how little it matters whether they turn out or not. At present, however, we apply ourselves to them as if they were great things. When we were little children with what eagerness we assembled little bits of tile, wood, and mud to make houses and small buildings! And if someone destroyed them, we were very sad and cried over it; now, though, we know well that it all mattered very little. One day it will be the same with us in heaven: we will see that our concerns in this world were really just child’s play. …Attend faithfully to your duties, but know that your most important business is to tend to your salvation and make progress on the saving path of true devotion. … Be patient with everyone, but especially with yourself. What I mean to say is don’t trouble yourself about your imperfections, and always have the courage to lift yourself out of them. I’m pleased that you begin again every day: there is no better way to live out the spiritual life than always to begin again and never to think you have done enough.”

Early morning Hot Air Balloon Launch in Albuquerque, NM

Early morning Hot Air Balloon Launch in Albuquerque, NM

Sharon Daloz Parks wrote the book Big Enough Questions, Worthy Dreams. Her book invites us to consider what we hold dear in our lives, and how we live out our lives to bless not only ourselves, AND others. So perhaps this Lenten Season, this time of liminal space, of being in the in-between space on the verge of becoming more authentically ourselves – we learn to hold both the joy of not taking ourselves too seriously and what we do take seriously;  we examine to see if those questions are “big enough” and our dreams worthy enough of our salvation.

From Sharon Daloz Parks, Big Questions, Worthy Dreams: Mentoring Young Adults in Their Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Faith, Jossey-Bass. 2000.

Big Enough Questions:

  • Who do I really want to become?
  • How do I work toward something when I don’t even know what it is?
  • Am I loveable?
  • Who will be there for me?
  • Why is suffering so pervasive?
  • What are the values and limitations of my culture?
  • Who am I as a sexual being?
  • Do my actions make any real difference in the bigger scheme of things?
  • Do I want friendship, partnership, marriage? If so, why? With whom?
  • What is my society, or life, or God, asking of me? Anything?
  • What is the meaning of money?  How much is enough?
  • Is there a master plan?
  • Am I wasting time I will regret later?
  • What constitutes meaningful work?
  • How have I been wounded? Will I ever really heal?
  • What do I want the future to look like—for me, for others, for my planet?
  • What is my religion? Do I need one?
  • What are my real talents, preferences, skills, and longings?
  • When do I feel most alive?
  • Where can I be creative?
  • What am I vulnerable to?
  • What are my fears?
  • How am I complicit in patterns of injustice?
  • Will I always be stereotyped?
  • What do I really want to learn?
  • Do I want to bring children into the world?
  • How do I discern what is trustworthy?
  • Why do they hate us? (added after 9/11)
  • Where do I want to put my stake in the ground and invest my life?

Worthy Dreams
From a 9/10/02 presentation by Sharon Daloz Parks at Loyola University Chicago
Criteria for assessment: Is it a Dream? (Versus a dream)

  1. Does the Dream enliven me?
  2. Does it align with my core values?
  3. Do I need help to make this Dream come true? (If not, the dream is only a goal.)
  4. Will the Dream require me to become my true self?
  5. Will the Dream bless others?

2 Responses

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  1. This sounds like a fabulous book … I’m going to order a copy. I’m giving a talk in South Carolina in April on evaluating mentoring programs, and it sounds like this would be great background material. Thanks!

  2. Oh My Verna, I just now saw your comment! How did your talk go? Was the book helpful? I hope so!!!

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