The call of the prophet is to change the world. As prophets we are gifted with the ability to see what in our world is in need of healing and transformation and how to support that transformation. Prophets come in all shapes and sizes and walk among us within all sectors of our culture. Prophets are right there underneath our noses, working for positive non-violent change in our homes, our schools, our medical facilities, our corporations, our government, and yes, even in the military. As prophets we each have a unique calling specific to our circle of influence or area of expertise. As Albert Nolan so astutely observed:
Prophets are people who speak out when others remain silent. They are watchful of the areas in need of reform in their own society, their own country, or their own religious institutions. True prophets are men and women who stand up and speak (or act) out about the practices of their own people and their own leaders – while others remain silent. True prophets are not part of the authority structure. Prophets are never appointed, ordained or anointed by the religious establishment. They experience a special calling that comes directly from God, and their message comes from their own personal experience of God. (Jesus Today – A Spirituality of Radical Freedom, Orbis Books, 2008, pp. 63-67)
The prophet’s call is to change the world. The challenge to being a prophet, however, is that as a voice for change with a vision of our future and how to get there, we disturb the status quo. In order to make a change….we have to…..change. And as I have learned, the human species is more afraid of change than they are of death (why else would a woman who is being regularly beaten by her husband stay?). As such, the world’s response to the prophet is one of two things:
- To make the prophet the enemy.
- To ignore them all together.
If you are a prophet, you are familiar with these responses. I know I am. What the local Catholic Church did to me in response to my request for reform (which really wasn’t reform at all…it was simply a request to return to the mission Jesus originally began which was to teach people how to love) was everything short of a literal burning at the stake. (Cue Mel Brooks). After leaving the Church my work continues to be met by our popular culture with mostly silence and blank stares. I am not alone. I know prophets in the fields of teaching, religion, medicine, the arts, government, etc. who have met with much of the same. It is the prophet’s curse – that and a fair dose of existential rage over who does get heard in a culture based in fear, power, control, greed, gluttony, sloth, deception and corruption.
As a prophet, however, we do not live in that world. We cannot live in that world. If we did we would die. The prophet has no choice but to stand in the integrity of our gift, our call, our mission and our purpose. When we stray from our truth, our calling, our path, when we try to sell out for the cultural norm, we are punished. This punishment is not an act of Divine retribution, but the natural consequence of denying our gifts.
What is true for the prophet, however, is also true for all of humanity. Each and every person on this planet has been uniquely gifted to be a vessel through which the transformational power of Divine love is meant to be manifest in our world. Every single person. And yet, very few heed the true calling of their soul, dooming them forever to a life of quiet desperation – in our modern world, selling out to the house, the car, the status, the fame, the power, the money. While they may be successful based on societal standards, they are not fulfilled within. Some are aware of this lack of fulfillment, many feel it but choose to numb it in any of the various ways in which our culture silences the voice of our inner truth – food, alcohol, sex, gambling, TV, the internet, drugs, constant doing and achieving. All the while, writhing from within over the insatiable longing of their soul.
While I do not believe in Divine retribution, I do believe in karma. When we ignore the calling of our soul, we suffer. While as a prophet I might find some measure of comfort or a righteous sense of justice over this truth, but I do not. Instead it makes me sad. While I might be tempted to seek a prophet’s revenge on those who choose to ignore the calling of their soul, I do not. I only want them to be free. While I might have the tools to help people find that freedom, I cannot make them drink.
Lauri Ann Lumby, OM, OPM, MATS supports you in your spiritual awakening and your journey toward self-actualization through her writing, online courses and one-on-one spiritual direction.
You can reach Lauri at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (920) 230-1313.