Parker Palmer, a writer, teacher, activist, and Quaker, asks a compelling question: “Is the life you are living the same as the life that wants to live in you?”
By Tera Klein
At first glance this question may seem easy to answer. You might reply, “Of course this is the life that wants to live in me! My life is the summation of all I have learned and known up until this point – my goals, my hopes, my dreams.”
But upon further reflection, you know that all too often our lives remind us or tell us what it intends to do with us when we are not necessarily asking. From out of nowhere, we hear a voice or see a sign, and suddenly the direction of our lives change. Some of us experience this as vocation, a word that comes from a Latin root meaning “voice.” It is a call, a reminder, from deep inside ourselves about who and what we are meant to be. It’s our heart work.
An important piece about vocation, or heart work, is – it is not all about us. Actually, it has little to do with us, with ego. Palmer says that true vocation joins self and service; it is “the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep hunger” (thank you, Frederick Buechner!).
Take a moment
to remember what made
your eyes sparkle
and caused you
to laugh with glee
There is so much need in the world, so much in need of healing, so much that can use a gentle touch and word of compassion. Our world needs us to heed to the vibrations of our heart, to grab onto our vocation and go for it.
But what if you are still wondering what causes your heart to vibrate?
You don’t have to wait endlessly for a word or a sign. You can enter a practice that Palmer recommends. Move away from the noise, the distractions, the commitments and tasks that always call out to you. Find a quiet enough place to sit. To breathe. And recall what you most loved to do as a child. Did you long to create art, or sing, or teach, or delight people with your dramatics?
Life often covers up our earliest longings, tells us they aren’t practical or that they are silly. But take a moment to remember what made your eyes sparkle and caused you to laugh with glee. What you uncover may be the answer to your vocation. I’m not suggesting you run out and change your profession (though perhaps that’s a great decision!). But that may be an avenue through which you engage the world on a deeper level. There are so many organizations and groups that are doing their part to heal the world, and they are always looking for people to volunteer. A wonderful resource in Pasadena is “Jericho Road,” which matches community talents with community needs.
When you listen to the vibration of your heart, what is the life you hear that wants to live in you?
Rev. Tera Klein is the minister at Throop Unitarian Universalist Church in Pasadena. She’s inspired by eco-feminist theology, singing, and innovative vegan food.
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