Vocation Challenged

I made these to earn a few extra pennies to feed the family before we moved to Australia.

I was twenty-three when my idea of what I was called to – Religious Life – was challenged. I fell in love. It may not have been a very original way of not entering a convent, but it was a very real and pressing challenge at the time. I had to ask deep questions of myself and, within my Christian paradigm of that time, I had to ask deep questions of what I believed God was asking of me. I felt as if I was letting down the people around me. I had told so many of my intention and held onto it so firmly. I had stood in front of my church and told the whole congregation of my belief that God was calling me to enter a convent. It was no small matter to let go of something so publicly declared.

I still felt very drawn to a contemplative way of life, and in time, both Rob and I joined the Franciscan Third Order. St Francis established  it to cater for married couples or other folk not at liberty to leave their commitments for various reasons. (Third Order of the Society of St Francis). Perhaps it is no coincidence that, of all the gallery of saints, whether real or swiped from the pagan pantheon, St Francis is the most druid-like of the lot, with his strong emphasis on relationship with all of creation, best illustrated in his Canticle of the Sun. His propensity for story-telling and song-writing made him a bard through and through.

However, joining the Third Order never provided me with what that “something” was that I was searching for. I thought it was the right thing to do and was what God asked of me – but still, something was missing. Again and again I found myself looking for something that was in the future – children grown up so I could make my home what I wanted it to be – more like a convent, a change in career that would allow me to feel that what I was doing was more “special” or more “God-centred”. Life wasn’t easy. Rob and I made some less than brilliant decisions regarding how we handled our money. He never could earn much with his hearing limits and not having a driver’s license. I felt I carried the load. The going got rough and I had to deal with depression. Through it all, I was still looking for something more.

Meanwhile, through all the weaving of the strands of my days, new threads were being added and ancient threads were being brought to the fore. My experiences of being counselled gave me a deep love for psychology. I added to what I learnt in those sessions through what I read, and later completed a Certificate in Counselling and some training in Logotherapy (meaning-centred counselling). The challenges I faced on the home front – taught me to look deeply for meaning. Those challenges – debt, unfair dismissal from a job, retrenchment,  a miscarriage, and more – all helped me to grow strong. As time passed, my idea of my vocation changed again, and I envisaged a triple-stranded calling that included counselling, giving seminars and writing. However, I was still frustrated because it always seemed to be something in the future, something requiring additional, not-yet-obtained qualifications. I also had a deep sense of something not being quite right about the timing: I felt I wasn’t ready. Was it merely a matter of low self-esteem, expecting some sort of perfection of myself, or was it something more?

From where I am now, I can say it was the “something more”. I am reminded of a book which I have read twice, and which is beginning to look well-loved from being delved into: The Soul’s Code by James Hillman. James Hillman talks of the idea of each soul being “given a unique daimon before we are born, and it has selected an image or pattern that we live on earth…..your daimon is the carrier of your destiny” (pg 8).

What began as an idea of calling or vocation that would express itself in some sort of life work is valid, but that is merely the outermost layer of something far more complex and deep. When I look back, I wish I could have been better at understanding the depth and complexity as I journeyed, but I did the best that I could with the knowledge I had at any given point on the way. It is with this in mind that I can share about another layer of walking the journey.

I became fascinated by the way I was drawn to particular character types in stories – always the priestess, the druid, the solitary and mysterious woman of the woods, the one who was wild and other, This was something that reached back into my childhood. I believed it had something to tell me about myself – that it was part of the path and revealed something about calling. Thus I began seeing myself (this in my early thirties) as a young priestess of some sort, embarking on a journey to the place where I would receive my training. When I imagined myself as this fictional or metaphorical person, I felt strong and free. It became a secret source of inner strength for me, quite apart from my faith, which was becoming shaky as I questioned more deeply.

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~ by Dragonwyst on June 17, 2012.

One Response to “Vocation Challenged”

  1. Thanks for sharing, Dragonwyst.

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