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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Reflections on Being Called


I'm (again) in the middle of many books! The two dominant ones are Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston and The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris.

The Cloister Walk is fascinating, with the author's Protestant faithful perspective on the liturgy of the hours and monastic living. She seems more catholic than she lets on! She discusses the saints and humanity in beautiful language, and what she says speaks to me in unexpected ways. Here's one example, from a discussion of Jeremiah:

"All of us, I suspect, have times when we're made to suffer simply for being who and what we are, and we become adept at inventing means of escape. ... Jeremiah reminded me that the pain that comes from one's identity, that grows out of the response to a call, can't be escaped or pushed aside. It must be gone through. He led me into that heart of pain, forcing me to recognize that to answer a call as a prophet, or a poet for that matter, is to reject the authority of credentials, of human valuation of any kind, accepting only the authority of the call itself." (p.38)

A few pages later:
"Walter Brueggeman, in a book on the prophets entitled Hopeful Imagination, suggests that 'a sense of call in our time is profoundly countercultural,' and notes that 'the ideology of our time is that we can live "an uncalled life," one not referred to any purpose beyond one's self.' I suspect that this idol of the autonomous, uncalled life has a shadow side that demands that we resist the notion that another might be different, might indeed experience a call. Our idol of the autonomous individual is a sham; the truth is we expect everyone to be the same, and dismiss as elitist those who are working through a call to any genuine vocation. It may be that our culture so fears the necessary other that it has grown unable to identify and name real differences without becoming defensive about them."

These words speak to my own internal struggles with a vocation and how it is perceived. All of us know that choosing religious life is countercultural--who else gives up sex, money, and power? But, of course, there's more to it than that. In my heart, there is the knowledge that if I don't listen to this calling, even if it leads me back to where I started, I will not be happy. I will not be at peace with myself and with God. Despite any hardships that listening to the call might bring.

4 comments:

Pachyderm said...

Juliet, doing this is really hard. And it's even harder to listen when our call is so different to everyone else's. At risk of being colloquial, "You go, girl!"

Hang in there.

Robyn

Sophie's Daughter (Juliet) said...

Thanks, Robyn! I'm grateful for the encouragement.

Sophia said...

"In my heart, there is the knowledge that if I don't listen to this calling, even if it leads me back to where I started, I will not be happy. I will not be at peace with myself and with God. Despite any hardships that listening to the call might bring."

This speaks to my heart as I renew my commitment to Independent Catholic priesthood, which has led to some phenomenal sacrifices in both career and relationships....But is still the fountain of joy in my heart.

Holding you in prayer as you wait through these last days for certainty about your path.

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