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Following a Calling

school for Christian theology. I sat with the notion, but shook it off. And then life intervened. In August 2015, my then 10-year-old daughter had a seizure while visiting her mother’s family in western Pennsylvania. She was helicoptered to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh while I drove through the night from Oxford to get there. She spent the next month, first in pediatric intensive care, then in the neurology ward, then in a rehabilitation hospital. People reached out. They prayed. They helped. My daughter came home. Though she still has occasional seizures, she is healthy. I am not saying prayer and faith changed her outcome ~ God’s primary way of working is through the hands of people, including doctors and nurses ~ but the experience changed me and my perspective. Beyond just nature, writing, reading, I began to find my footing and faith in church, first at Real Life Chapel, and then finding a home at Christ Church. I could find and feel things working in my life that were bigger than me. “I have found it very important in my own life to try to let go of my wishes and instead to live in hope,” Henri Nouwen writes in Finding My Way Home. “I am finding that when I choose to let go of my sometimes petty and superficial wishes and trust that my life is precious and meaningful in the eyes of God something really new, something

I have struggled, fallen, and been broken, repeatedly. Life hurts, frequently. I have found for decades that when I needed a voice, it has been writers like Buechner and contemplative monk Thomas Merton who have spoken to me: “Life is this simple: we are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and the divine is shining through it all the time. This is not just a nice story or a fable, it is true.” Merton helped pull back the curtain to reconnect me with something bigger than myself. In 2013, I had an overriding sense that I should go to seminary or back to

Michael Valliant with both of his daughters in front of the Oxford Community Center. 64

November 2017 ttimes web magazine  

Tidewater Times November 2017