The word calling is a bit of an enigma to me. I think this is mostly because I have longed for years for a clearer sense of what my heart-work in the world is to be about. Someone once said that one’s calling is where the gifts and passions we possess and the world’s biggest needs collide (at least that is my paraphrase of it.)
I don’t know about you, but when I consider these things, I feel that I have spent far too much time and energy on “matters that don’t matter,” really.
It’s not that I am “above” the realities of life; gardening, cooking, cleaning, working, paying the bills. (Though frankly, I’m not sure you’d want to hire me to scrub your shower…) When you are a parent, all of this contributes to the whole of life – and it can make you a little crazy from time to time. I have learned to transform some of these necessary distractions into a more sacramental experience, which truly helps. But, still, the stuff of life can seriously mess with my personal bliss. Just sayin.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not adverse to the work of the body. And I value it. I grew up on a 1,500 acre farm. Weeding 500 acres? Driving a 2 1/2 ton flatbed truck? Hauling rocks out of the way of the combines? Walking into a metal trailer and shoveling grass seed and dirty and chaff to the back on a 90 degree day? (I swear I could sprout a lawn out of my scalp by the end of the day.) Done all of that. And, it wasn’t fun, but it was necessary. I know how to get my hands dirty and my back sore. Now I engage in more civilized farming process. Every spring I am out there like a fiend in the garden pulling weeds, stalking slugs, and throwing manure on the raspberries. There is something really satisfying about this kind of work. And, it reminds me where I came from. It reminds me that my parents and grandparents worked hard, long hours to create a life for me … and that the creating of life is not only about ideas and hopes and prayers, but about a willingness to keep engaged in the many sensual ways we must do life. And that food is grown somewhere! Perhaps mostly it reminds me of the privilege I live in now. I don’t ever want to take that for granted.
I had a provocative conversation with a friend a week or so ago. He said that the life he lives now was something he couldn’t have known how to even imagine as a child. There was no framework, no canvas for it. It was the world before impossible. If you think about it, then, he was living in the world before the world of the world he would some day imagine. And then his life became, eventually, the living of the wildly improbable vision of the impossible vision that would never come to pass. And now here he is. He is living in what, by all his accounts, really should never have come to be. He is living the impossible. And this is just the beginning of what is still to come. I don’t even want to try to add another impossible onto that equation. There really is no word or world beyond impossible.
Or is there?
This alone could seriously change how we perceive our world, friends! And maybe even open a door into our own impossible.
I guess all I would add – as I write in this moment- is that my friend is living his calling. And we know that living deeply, remaining open, and being human means that this river of calling has had a few big rocks to negotiate in that current. And he isn’t without bloody knees and likely he’s sucked down a bit of water now and then. It’s cold in the river. And wet – which makes your hair crazy and your nails too soft to play the guitar. So, it isn’t necessarily safe.
But somehow I believe that this river, this calling, is something that you can trust. It is something I can trust. It is the river of our calling to choose to live and create a world where we are “give a damn” people. It is where peace and justice kiss each other, where our well-being is caught up in that web of mutuality that hold us to each other and to this beloved earth. It is the real thing.
Everything is Changing
Everything is changing; like a river rolls
Following and forging; water and stone
Standing here upon the shore, I can feel the water roar
There is a wild, untamed mystery and it’s pulsing through our veins
It moves us on and it anchors us like a current through the waves
If we stay on the river bank, we’ll have only ourselves to blame
Wet or dry, warm or shivering, nothing ever stays the same
Everything is changing; I have heard it said
Just receive it; like wine and bread
Wading in the river’s chill; drenched with both the fear but oh the thrill
For a moment we are single streams
Surging on toward the sea
Every river journeys on and every stream feeds into one
(Copyright Words and lyric by Shannon Beck)