Unchartered Ocean

Sunset, Chapman’s Peak Drive, Cape Town

So – I left the church.

No longer could I say my calling or vocation was something from God. It was a rather scary place to be, minus the parameters and boundaries that had been my companions for so long. One might liken it to being cast loose on an ocean minus a compass and nothing much that resembles a shoreline.

The trouble with this state was that I seemed to be missing two other ingredients for a satisfying life: purpose and direction. I don’t suppose one can really have a vocation/calling that doesn’t result in a purpose, but it is possible to have purpose without defined calling – I think…I’m open to correction, and the nuances are probably a glorious multitude. The “direction” part was certainly an issue for me. I am accustomed to living with one or other goal or destination in mind.

Where to on this wide ocean minus points of reference? It was an adventure. I took time to untangle the threads of my life and my sense of identity: These values are mine and I retain them, those were the church’s – let them go. This thing I keep, that thing goes.

In the end, I am left with a bouquet of what matters:

– Those things that have been part of me from early childhood, like a deep sense of connectedness to nature and believing this to be a treasure-trove.
– Those things that I have gained and had reinforced over the years – what I deem to be fair, a sense of justice, mercy – bearing in mind context, circumstances and frame of reference and mind for others involved in an event.
– The arts – music, creating things, writing poetry
– Learning – expanding understanding, taking on board various issues and seeking to grasp different paradigms.
– My responsibility to and care for the people entrusted to me, beginning with my own family – husband and sons.

But without bowing to a god – who is going to call me to what? Perhaps I have to call myself to heed the deepest drives, wills and inclinations of my heart. The injunction to “follow your bliss” (Joseph Campbell) is profound and true.

I spent a year or two in limbo during this time. I found myself becoming very left-brained in my approach to everything – critical and scientific. I could only sustain that for a while before missing what I had had. I needed spirituality – a sense of mystery. Hence, my path into druidry.

Druidry is a framework  for me. It brings back the sense of connection. The stories and myths and seasons of the year create reference points once more. I find myself able to come home to a port, and use the stars to navigate. It ties back to the intuitive sense of magic in nature I had as a very young child, standing, toes wet in the dew, as I angled myself to see the brightest rainbows of sunlight glinting off the lawn. The stories describe the context of my life. They tell me what is, and don’t circumscribe my life with rules and judgements that warp, twist and limit.

For a brief moment I tried to overlay my old familiar sense of calling and vocation onto this new map. It could work just as well – druid counsellors abound, as do writers and givers of workshops. It all fits neatly into the picture. But still, finishing that damned counselling course holds no appeal. Running workshops  isn’t “it” – though I wouldn’t mind. But writing – now there’s another matter!

The first story I ever had published was called “About My Chickens“. I was eight years old. The Star Newspaper in Johannesburg had a special page where children’s writing and pictures were published.  I remember feeling immensely frustrated that I could not write a whole chapter book when I was devouring Famous Five and Secret Seven. I failed to appreciate that Enid Blyton wasn’t nine or ten when she wrote those books! I discovered the copy of Roget’s Thesaurus in the bookcase, and took great delight in using words like “scintillate” and “frost-rimed” in poems about winter as I increased my vocabulary.

Writing pre-dates my Christian path and extends beyond it. Writing continued through it as well, but with constraints. It is difficult to write the full spectrum of humanity when one is busy feeling vaguely apprehensive of, and judgemental towards anyone who doesn’t profess to be a committed Christian. I found it limiting – though there are those Christian writers who cope with this most ably and thoroughly, and I take my hat off to them.

Can I declare the juxta-positioning of words my vocation or calling? It’s certainly part of it. Foundational, perhaps. The rest will be a matter building up and pulling down, rebuilding and exploring. All of it is about following my bliss.

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~ by Dragonwyst on June 30, 2012.

One Response to “Unchartered Ocean”

  1. I said I would be a writer when i was very young. My Grandmother bought me a typewriter and I did write my first novel on it, many years later, after those early years of being lost were past. I too try to write my reverence for nature and everyday magic into my books, even though my writing has never got to be the main focus of my life. It runs under everything else I do. I would say you can call it a calling. It calls me back no matter what else I am into. Of all the creative things I pursue, writing is the one that comes most naturally to me, where I most easily can slip into ‘flow’ and touch the universe.

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