Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The calling

Maybe I read too many preachers' blogs, but I've been thinking a lot lately about the idea of a calling. Now, I don't think I've been called to the ministry, but I've always believed in personal missions. I don't necessarily mean missionary work, but I know that is a field to which some have been called. What I'm talking about isn't necessarily tied to just Christianity, but my religious beliefs do shade this view.

I believe that everything in the universe is here for a purpose, from the empty space between sub-atomic particles to planets to people and those aspects of creation that seem intangible or supernatural to us. For me, this is just the natural outcome of a belief in a Great Creator who formed a structured world that S/he loves. It's not science. It's instinct. It's a belief, which is far more profound and less likely to be dislodged than a fact. I don't ask others to believe this, but I don't think I can be dissuaded. It seems set in my bones.

It logically follows that if you believe that everything has a purpose that you also believe that you have a purpose. A raison d'etre. A mission. A calling. So there is something that I am supposed to do as my part of God/dess' divine plan. Now it's just distinctly possible that because I exist, I'm fulfilling my function. Because I'm human, I have the double edged blessing of self awareness, and that means I have this aching feeling, a void in my spirit, telling me that there is something specific I am supposed to do. This could just be human arrogance that I am supposed to know in a clearly defined form of cognizance what it is I'm supposed to do. Most people, it seems, tend to think that only we as a species, among all creation, have the ability to connect with and respond to God/dess with knowledge and choice.

Is our calling in our instincts? in our natural abilities and skills? That seems comfortable to me, and it also seems to make some sort of sense. Having faith take a logical form is an essential part of religious belief for me. There is so much mystery in believing and following God/dess that when aspects of belief make sense, it feels like insight. It also makes it easy for me to think that writing is what I am called to do.

Yet, when I turn to God/dess in prayer and when I turn to scriptures for understanding, I am reminded that what people are called to do often runs counter to their natural abilities and preferences. A small, easily dismissed shepard boy was called to be a warrior and a king. An example of abundance and material blessing was called to be an example of grace, faith and gratitude through loss and misunderstanding. Need I mention the carpenter who was called to bear the burden for all humanity, indeed, even all creation?

That I ponder these thoughts at the same time I'm going through a midlife transition is only logical. In my years as a recruiter, I helped enough people making big career changes to know that angst, confusion and indecision are just part of the process, and while my emotional maelstrom may seem severe to me, I know by observation that it's really par for the course. A calling and a career aren't and don't have to be the same thing. What I am meant to do doesn't have to be the way I support myself, and that both are weighing on me now is more coincidental than anything else.

However I want to justify my thoughts and feelings, I just know that I can't seem to quit pondering the concept of a calling. Is it just ego that says I should have one? and more ego that I should consciously know what it is and have choices in how it is fulfilled? These thoughts are all sophomoric and naive. They're the kind of ideas mulled over a joint on a late night in college. They're the big, ineffable thoughts we're either supposed to have settled to our satisfaction or put away because they're no longer practical and appropriate by my age. I know how easy it would be to mock all of this, yet it's real, important, and for me, inescapable.

I'm listening...I hope I'm willing. At least, I want to want to be willing. I hope I know how to hear.



Blogger some chick said...

Thus we are indeed kindred...for I too am called like that of a siren.

Like the mythology story of flying to the sun...I discovered my calling was the missions field of children's injured hearts for mine had already been prepared.

you can have your blog back now.

(one handed typing is hard holding an infant.)

July 24, 2007 2:47 PM  
Blogger Theresa Williams said...

But to have done instead of not doing
this is not vanity
To have, with decency, knocked
That a Blunt should open
To have gathered from the air a live tradition
or from a fine old eye the unconquered flame
This is not vanity.
Here error is all in the not done,
all in the diffidence that faltered.

July 24, 2007 2:54 PM  
Blogger more cows than people said...

i've been waiting for this post, dear cyn. i believe we all have a calling and i believe a dawning awarness of yours has been coming... and this post heralds its nearness. 'course i'm one of your preacher friends.

and.. um... i don't think everyone is called to something unpredictable though i think everyone will find something unpredicatable in a true call. if that makes any sense.

do you know the overquoted buecchner quote about your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger... worth looking up probably as you think about this.

when do you feel most alive, dear cyn? this is usually a key to discernment.

praying with you... more cows

July 24, 2007 8:55 PM  
Blogger Lisa :-] said...

I have a problem with the idea of a "calling." Especially at my age.

I've seen many people who have believed they were "called" to do something, do it and fail miserably. Maybe they WERE called to the lesson of the failure...I don't know. At this point in my life, I've come to realize that sometimes you just have to DO it (whatever "it" is) without worrying whether it is your calling or not.

July 24, 2007 11:55 PM  
Blogger Katherine E. said...

I came across your blog last week, through RevDrKate (or perhaps it was SearchtheSea--can't remember). Great writing. You're in my list of "favorites" now. Like your friend "more cows," I'm a preacher type, too, so the idea of calling is home territory for me. I appreciate "more cows"' question of when do you feel most alive--most passionate and authentic?

Just commenting here to wish you well in the seeking. I happen to believe that our callings are a kind of searching for the image of God-within, and in the listening itself is usually the answer. Blessings!

July 28, 2007 1:53 PM  
Anonymous Barbara said...

I believe God gives us all an incredible mix. Each has talents, skills that come natural to us. Each of us develope some others along the way. When we are Christ's each of us are bestowed a gift/gifts to use in his kingdom. All of us have a general call on our lives, i.e. the great commission. And yes, some are called out to a specific purpose/ministry. And you are right, although our talents and skills may help us, these calls often envolve having to step out on faith for God to supply what we lack in ourselves.

July 29, 2007 10:36 PM  

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