The Beginning of a Calling

The whole idea of having a specific calling, vocation or purpose in life gripped me from my teen years. Back then, as a very committed Christian, I asked myself what I believed God was calling me to. I wanted it to be something dramatic and exciting – I expected it to be so. I anticipated that it would be something that asked much of me – my all. And then I hit a roadblock.

Whatever it was, I wanted it NOW! Which, needless to say, wasn’t going to happen.

When it comes to reading signs and omens, Terry Pratchet is right. They are everywhere, and you choose the ones that fit (“I shall wear Midnight” by Terry Pratchet). I saw signs in hymns that meant I was to be a missionary, scriptures leapt off the page instructing me to go to Bible college. And then came the big one. We had a Brother from the Community of the Resurrection give a talk at our church on Religious Life. Nothing captured my imagination so thoroughly and completely as the idea of entering a convent.

My dream of convent life and the reality thereof, were probably two different things. However, the idea shaped many aspects of the choices I made. I shifted from wanting a career path that revolved around horses to one that involved people. I became a nurse because it was a career choice compatible with Religious Life, among other reasons. I found myself comfortable in a hospital setting, though over time, realised I was more taken with counselling my patients than nursing them.

Those early years of trying to walk in the direction of a calling were fraught with a passion and intensity that was at once exhilarating and aching. I was too young to act on it and had to go the tedious route of finishing studies first. I hurled myself at every opportunity to spend weekends with the Religious Communities near me. I drenched myself in the deep quiet of the liturgical hours of prayer and dragged as much of it into my day-to-day student nurse life as I could. I wanted this and to be thoroughly dedicated to my God so very, very much. And in my reading for pleasure, I identified with the young priestesses dedicated to gods or goddesses in other realms. They were me – I was them. The calling was the same.

And the Sisters? They were wonderful. They gave me space and time, listened to me and affirmed me. They mentioned such words as “patience” and “time” which I understood intellectually, but had absolutely no capacity to take on board. Discernment is essential and they knew how to do it. The community I spent the most time with no longer has a house in South Africa. I will always hold them very dear for the years that those Sisters were part of my life. (Community of St Mary the Virgin) I never did enter a convent, but that part of my life laid the foundation of a deep love for a contemplative way of life, fed my inner journey and gave deep meaning to solitude.

My absorption with the idea of a calling is certainly not everyone’s experience. There are those who approach the matter with far greater carefulness and consideration, those who run in terror of the idea that they might be “meant” to do something and those who don’t believe in callings or have no idea what theirs might be. I don’t believe it matters. However I do wonder how much the idea of calling and vocation is addressed in the pagan community. I believe it is something that has a place, for few wind up here who have not first heard a call, from god or goddess, from river or tree or ocean, earth or star.

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~ by Dragonwyst on June 9, 2012.

3 Responses to “The Beginning of a Calling”

  1. I’m not sure I had a calling to be pagan. I just *was* one before I ever knew such a thing existed. It was more of a knowing.

    • I don’t think one has a “calling” to be a Christian either. A path is a context. The calling/vocation may be something that grows out of it – like those who have a particular role in leadership or imparting a particular message – some find their niche in herb lore, others might be up to the elbows in promoting eco-friendly living, yet others have a role in tarot, and so forth. One can have a calling without any particular spiritual path underpinning the idea.

      My experience is that Christianity was far more focused on creating a climate that invited people to ask that question than perhaps other paths are. It’s a helpful question as we are usually our happiest and most productive when doing that “thing” we feel we are specifically “meant” to do.

  2. The kind of work we do does not make us holy but we can make it holy. However “sacred” a calling may be, as a calling it has no power to sanctify; but rather as we are and have the divine being within, we bless each task we do … be it eating, or sleeping, or watching, or any other.

    Whatever they do, those who have not much of God’s nature, they work in vain.

    — Meister Eckhart

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