Finding Your Calling, Living Your Vocation

Open water 3--photo by Julie McCarty

Someone very experienced in the spiritual  life recently gave me this quotation:

Each man has his own vocation.
The talent is the call.

There is one direction in which all space is open to him.
He has faculties silently inviting him thither to endless exertion.

He is like a ship in a river;
he runs against obstructions on every side but one;
on that side all obstruction is taken away,
and he sweeps serenely over a deepening channel into an infinite sea.       
              
–Ralph Waldo Emerson, in Spiritual Laws

As a woman, I have found that changing the pronouns for my personal journal makes me more aware that the words are intended for me. After all, Emerson intended the words to be for all people. So in my journal, I also wrote this version:

Each woman has her own vocation.
The talent is the call.

There is one direction in which all space is open to her.
She has faculties silently inviting her thither to endless exertion.

She is like a ship in a river;
she runs against obstructions on every side but one;
on that side all obstruction is taken away,
and she sweeps serenely over a deepening channel into an infinite sea.
              
–Ralph Waldo Emerson, in Spiritual Laws (adapted pronouns)

In our time and culture, one can experience multiple callings at once, or different callings over the course of a lifetime. One man may live out the callings of parent, spouse, construction worker, and part-time artist simultaneously. A woman might be head of a business, school board member, volunteer, and the caretaker of her aging parent.

Woman paddling on water--photo by Julie McCartyI think Emerson is talking about those gifts within us that light a fire in our lives. They are callings that become a driving passion for our existence. Many things may seem to obstruct these callings, and we may feel impatient. However, Emerson believes that eventually, we find a way for what is most important. I think of it this way: God opens the door for us when the time and place are right.

What are your gifts calling you to do at this point in your life?
What step might you take this week to test the waters?

Think about it–and I will, too.

Until next time, Amen!

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