IN THE YEAR THAT King Uzziah died, or in the year that John F. Kennedy died, or in the year that somebody you loved died, you go into the temple if that is your taste, or you hide your face in the little padded temple of your hands, and a voice says, "Whom shall I send into the pain of a world where people die?" and if you are not careful, you may find yourself answering, "Send me." You may hear the voice say, "Go." Just go.
Like "duty," "law," "religion," the word "vocation" has a dull ring to it, but in terms of what it means, it is really not dull at all. Vocare, to call, of course, and a person's vocation is a person's calling. It is the work that they are called to in this world, the thing that they are summoned to spend their life doing. We can speak of a person choosing their vocation, but perhaps it is at least as accurate to speak of a vocation's choosing the person, of a call's being given and a person hearing it, or not hearing it. And maybe that is the place to start: the business of listening and hearing. A person's life is full of all sorts of voices calling them in all sorts of directions. Some of them are voices from inside and some of them are voices from outside. The more alive and alert we are, the more clamorous our lives are. Which do we listen to? What kind of voice do we listen for?
- Originally published in The Hungering Dark