Vocation: Weekly Summary

Vocation

Summary: Sunday, May 27-Friday, June 1, 2018

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. —Parker Palmer (Sunday)

As conscious human beings, our life purpose is to be a visible expression of both the image and the likeness of God. Each of us reveals a unique facet of the divine. (Monday)

To meditate daily is to have chosen, accepted, and surrendered to a vocation. (Tuesday)

Discovering your unique gift to bring to your community is your greatest opportunity and challenge. The offering of that gift—your true self—is the most you can do to love and serve the world. And it is all the world needs.  —Bill Plotkin (Wednesday)

Discernment . . .  is about listening and responding to that place within us where our deepest desires align with God’s desire. —Henri Nouwen (Thursday)

Following Jesus is not a “salvation scheme” or a means of creating social order as much as it is a vocation to share the fate of God for the life of the world. (Friday)

 

Practice: Being Lost

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known. . . .
—David Wagoner [1]

Earlier this year I shared an invitation from psychologist and wilderness guide Bill Plotkin to wander in nature. [2] Plotkin writes about the great gift of “finding ourselves lost,” both literally in nature and metaphorically in the midst of life’s changes. Sit with his words today and then seek out a time and place where you can be alone and allow yourself to be “lost.”

Although true solitude—alert aloneness without diversions—can be challenging, it is often the necessary gateway to our deepest passions, and the discovery of what we must do to live them. As David Whyte writes,

. . . Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you. [3]

The Wanderer learns to look deeply into the face of her aloneness and discover what truly brings her alive and what doesn’t. . . . You discover ease, inspiration, belonging, and wisdom in your own company. . . .

When wandering, there is immense value in “finding ourselves lost” because we can find something when we are lost, we can find our selves. . . . Imagine yourself lost in your career or marriage, or in the middle of your life. You have goals, a place you want to be, but you don’t know how to reach that place. Maybe you don’t know exactly what you want, you just have a vague desire for a better place. Although it may not seem like it, you are on the threshold of a great opportunity. Begin to trust that place of not knowing. Surrender to it. You’re lost. There will be grief. A cherished outcome appears to be unobtainable or undefinable. In order to make the shift from being lost to being present, admit to yourself that your goal may never be reached. Though perhaps difficult, doing so will create entirely new possibilities for fulfillment.

Surrendering fully to being lost—and this is where the art comes in—you will discover that, in addition to not knowing how to get where you had wanted to go, you are no longer so sure of the ultimate rightness of that goal. By trusting your unknowing, your old standards of progress dissolve and you become eligible to be chosen by new, larger standards, those that come not from your mind or old story or other people, but from the depths of your soul. You become attentive to an utterly new guidance system. . . . This kind of being lost and then found is one form of ego death and rebirth, one form of entering the tomb-womb of the cocoon. . . .

In order to live your soul into the world, you must continuously loosen your beliefs about who you are.

References:
[1] Excerpt from David Wagoner, “Lost,” Poetry Magazine (July 1971), 219.

[2] See Richard Rohr’s meditation, “Wandering in Nature,” March 17, 2018, https://cac.org/the-natural-world-week-2-summary-2018-03-17/.

[3] David Whyte, “Fire in the Earth,” Fire in the Earth (Many Rivers Press: 1992), 8.

Bill Plotkin, Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche (New World Library: 2003), 234, 248-249, 263.

 

For Further Study:

Henri Nouwen, Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life (HarperOne: 2013)

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation (Jossey-Bass: 2000)

Bill Plotkin, Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche (New World Library: 2003)

Richard Rohr, Dancing Standing Still: Healing the World from a Place of Prayer (Paulist Press: 2014)

Richard Rohr, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2014)

Image credit: Automat (detail), 1927, Edward Hopper, Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, Iowa.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image:
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.
—David Whyte

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