I am spending a significant amount of time focusing on vocation. I have been here before, as I tend to be reflective and aware of what Wayne Dyer called “spiritual breadcrumbs.”
Those breadcrumbs can direct us, as it is often looking back where the confusion makes sense.
In my work at the University, I am involved indirectly in some of the departmental efforts for religious vocation. As a Campus Minister, vocation is on top of the charts in what we speak about, right there with academics, relationships, and questions of faith.
We often use the word “vocation” in regards to priesthood or religious life as a brother and sister. How often do we use the word vocation in its truest form as being aware to the sacred voice inside?
For some, this voice directs people into a sacramental ministry. For others and most, it directs us into different roles and responsibilities. The challenge we all face is discerning the voices in our lives to recognize and then follow the true voice within.
After a recent disappointment in a rejection letter from a publisher, I turned to my large bookcase of most spiritual books that are a combination of inherited and purchased resources.
Minutes after receiving the disappointing email, I felt the need to turn to the bookcase. I was grateful to be in my office as I received this notice. I could have easily been walking across campus looking at my phone or sitting in a meeting.
I believe that “no,” led me to that bookcase. There, after opening and closing a few old favorites, I did not feel the inspiration and peace I was searching for in that search.
I started to pack my bag to head home, but I went back to the bookcase and I came upon this small book titled “Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation” by Parker J. Palmer.
I opened the book and noticed my handwriting in the upper right corner. It read “PSB 14.”
This was referring to Dr. Pam Shea-Byrnes. Pam was my boss, mentor and friend who died suddenly on Christmas Eve 2013. In the months after her death, I was invited to go to her abandoned office to take something to remember her by.
I grabbed a few books, an envelope opener and a small plastic paper clip holder.
In the books, I wrote “PSB 14,” to remember where they came from.
Three years later, my old friend gave me another gift.
I am more than half way through Palmer’s intimate and inspiring guide. In sharing his own life and discernment, I find myself relating to his journey.
There are countless spiritual nuggets that can and will need more reflection, but I found this one most important for today.
“Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it,” Palmer writes, “listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent.”
So many voices. From ghosts of past authority figures, to present authority figures, to our culture, religious institutions, and society, as well as our own human complexity, it is difficult to shut out the loudest of voices for the most silent but important.
It is in that sacred voice that we all possess where we find clarity, purpose and direction.
As I discern my vocation(s), I am reminded to take time to listen. Through prayer, meditation and in the quiet, I search for that voice that is God. I invite you to join me in this discovery as the more we can do this together, the more we will all benefit.