Raison d'être

November 12, 2014

So…I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my raison d'être. Do I really have one?  Or, do  I think I have one while my reality suggests a meandering pursuit of half a million lesser raison d'êtres? Or perhaps I had one at an earlier time and carelessly misplaced it. That doesn’t sound good. And how about you? What and/or where is your raison d'être? Is it healthy? Is it sustainable?  Or, do you find yourself so consumed with the daily struggle and distraction of living to even consider such weighty, French sounding words?

Well I suppose, before we go much further, we ought to at least learn how to pronounce the word. It goes like this: rā-ˌzōⁿ-ˈdetrə. You find it peppered throughout much philosophical discourse from both a spiritual perspective and by others who proffer a closed universe  - i.e. those who would self-identify as an agnostic at best or as an atheist at, well…less best. It is interesting, and not a little surprising, that each philosophical camp roots its raison d'être in a universal constant. For the spiritually inclined, the universal constant is God, the Creator of heaven and earth. For the spiritually unconvinced, it is natural law that determines their raison d'être.

What we are talking about with this fancy word is none other than a person’s “reason for existence”, the dictionary definition of raison d'être.  “Why am I here?” “What is my purpose?” It is sometimes referred to as the study of passion, but that can actually sidetrack us from the literal etymology. One can have a number of passions that never touch the seminal and spooky question of, “Why am I here?” At the risk of sounding high-brow, I can safely say that your and my raison d'être does not involve:  Watching an entire weekend of football until the eyes bleed; Being a foodie; Going shopping; Sex; Hunting; Fishing; Rock n’ Roll; Politics; or, Facebook. We can all agree that those might be passions, but in a very limited and often pathetic way.  Even the most self-obsessed would probably agree that they were not placed on this beautiful planet to take, and then post, endless selfies. A higher calling might be found. (Perhaps pointing the camera in the other direction would be a healthful beginning).

Now, if the prospect of a Creator seasons our thinking, then the answer to our raison d'être will inevitably lead in the direction of a spiritual quest back to the Creator. If our world-view discounts God and involves the belief (and belief is the correct term) that we came from nothing – i.e. from super-heated then super cooled, inanimate matter – then we will seek our raison d'être there. (Skip past the question of whether or not our forefathers were chimps…In this line of thinking our forefathers were hunks of molten lava hurtling through space. “My Dad was a hottie!”). The former, the spiritual, suggests accountability. The latter places value on survival. 

Whichever side of the fence we find ourselves, we know that we will not survive - at least not in our present form. Thus, mere survival seems to me a rather imprudent, short-term bet.  We will not survive this life. Time will not stand still. We will each have a gathering hosted in our name where we will be absent, save in the form of unflattering, embalmed remains. Given another hundred years or so, we will become a small footnote in Ancestry.com. The life of faith suggests a hope that we will go on, that we will be transformed into something different, eternal and infinitely better. The life that discounts a Creator places all hope for happiness, pleasure and purpose in this short sprint we call “our life.”  I do not judge those who try to squeeze as much out of this life as they possibly can. Given the premise, it makes total sense.

My raison d'être is quite simple…I have been put on this earth to help others find their way back to the Creator – to tell them that their life has an intrinsic and infinite value and a raison d'être born of heaven itself. As I once more gear up to write with some regularity, I will do my best to share with you not only what I believe but why I believe it. For those who have read my past efforts, I know that a number of you have not yet arrived at faith in God. You remain unconvinced, skeptical, disillusioned, distracted and even cynical. That is quite okay. For now, I am honored that you allow me into your mailbox and give me a moment of consideration. I have found many of your return comments refreshing, kind and challenging.  But a fair warning…I am feeling a sense of urgency to write, to contend and to convince. Perhaps it has something to do with a world that seems to be fraying at the seams and seems hell-bent (literally) on self-destruction. But mostly it has to do with the fact that I am, at heart, a shepherd and I love souls…

And, I love your soul.  -CJ

© Patrick Crossing 2015