This article, written in 2001, is one of many with a focus on vocation. As you'll discover, I think of vacation as "what we are called to do" —
and I leave it up to you to figure out, 'called by whom?'
Dar and I spent a couple of post-Xmas days at my mom-in-law's, and several hours with friends during a stop on the way home. Last night, I was looking forward to a night in my own bed, as I'd not slept well the two previous nights. Sleep, however, eluded me.
I was into an old and quite familiar drama I create for myself, superficially around money. I could go into a long explanation about being self-employed and spending, as usual, way too much this holiday, but you all would be going "Hey! Me too!" so I won't bother. When I'm doing this to myself, I typically go into wanting to go out and get a "real job," but finally, in talking to Dar around 3 a.m., I reminded myself, ever again, that what I do, whom I "be," for me, is all about vocation.
Off I went to Pt. Elgin. I decided not to think on the way up, so I listened to an Audio Book. My first client was a woman I mentioned two issues ago ( click here to read) - the client who came in once, then went home and actually did something different. Remarkably, she has kept it up for a month, and is seeing her life in an entirely new way.
As we talked, she quietly dropped the following — "You know, I was a nun for a while." Then she talked about being a nurse. I thought I'd mis-heard her, but then she fleshed the story out. A convent from 16 to 24, did 2 years of her nursing training, decided to leave the convent, and she went to talk to a priest. She was worried, as she felt "called" to God's service, and was afraid that leaving the church would end her vocation. Thank God, the priest said, "Your vocation is service. The form and location doesn't matter." I smiled.
We then spent 20 minutes delightedly discussing vocation — the pull, for the two of us, to service. She's a couple of years older than me, and it was clear that both of us were counting out satisfaction on a "non material scorecard," as opposed to the more popular ones — position or money. Her line: "I'll know it's time to quit nursing when I no longer care enough about people to be of service," she said.
Those of you who have read Into the Centre for a while will know that stuff like that —synchronous events— happen to me several times a day. I find myself questioning something, and answers just seem to appear. I remember a several year conversation I had with Gloria Taylor, my therapist. She'd ask me if I was content — happy. I'd say, "Well, I have everything I set out to have, but no, I need this, that or the other thing in order to be content." She'd reply, "So if you have all of that, will you be content?" I'd respond, "No, then I'd need . . . " On and on, well over a decade. I'm a slow learner.
A couple of years ago, I finally began to see that I was killing myself with my unwillingness to surrender to the Now — to joyfully accepting what I have, right in this moment. I used to want things to be different — relationships, money, job — whatever — everything. To get past this, I began to explore not knowing and not wanting. I got the first piece easily, but frankly, I've sucked at the latter.
The friend we were visiting last night asked me if I had any dreams or desires. In keeping with my current task of being in the moment and not wanting, I said the appropriate thing — I mouthed the words that I had none, and wanted none.
Lately, I've begun to get the game I was playing with myself, I understood it well — with my head. Today, I think I "got it" with the rest of me.
Last night, I couldn't even create a good drama around my "poor me" act. I stated it to Dar, sighed, rolled over and went to sleep. Today, almost in response, I heard words of encouragement from those I met — words of encouragement from my clients, about my service to them. The woman I'm using as an example, at the end of the session, said, "You're more like a friend than a therapist to me. I can't believe how much I trust you and how different my life has been since I met you a month ago." Another called Dar to set up an appointment. I've known her for 14 years — when trouble hits, she calls me. Another friend called last night, wanting simply to hear my voice on our voicemail.
And none of this is about me.
It's about living from vocation. I'm here, I know, to be of service. I don't dictate what that service is. My "place" in this is to simply make myself available, and stay open. The cosmos takes care of the rest.
The piece that came to me on the drive home is that I don't have to speak to the masses or write a best seller (although I'll keep writing!!). I need to do what I do now. Keep my hours flexible. Write. And counsel. I need to stop running around trying to change the world, and simply help those who choose to drive to Elmira, Ontario or Port Elgin, Ontario, to avail themselves of what I have to offer. I'm here to help them find their light. I was "brought" here to be a presence, a little place of light, and, as my buddies Ben & Jock say, "It's enough to be a frog in a small pond — my own, small pond." I don't need more. I actually need less. Less confusion. Less running around.
All my life, I've been driven. Today, I decided to drive.
I was paying for gas an hour ago, chatting with the clerk, and noticing how beautiful she and the others in line were. I believe I saw through the veil, through the "mirror, dimly." I saw God. I realized I have come full circle, and what I have is more than enough. My vocation has finally become me, and I am overwhelmed, both by it and by the blessing that comes to me, undeserved and unbidden.
My New Year's wish for each of you is that you embrace, with love, the walk you are on, and seek the vocation you have. Thrust yourself into selfless service, and see what happens.