Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Discerning Vocation

Yesterday, Susan Stabile blogged on discerning vocation, and I'm stealing her idea today, title and all.

Vocation, of course, is the idea of combining your faith with your work somehow. It's a luxury in this economy to have a good job of any kind, but I am surprised at how many people I know, including many of you, have found that depth that makes a job part of a vocation.

Susan (quoting Jennifer Wright) describes vocation as having something to do with joy, gifts, and the needs of the world. I don't disagree with any of that, but I would add something else.

The people whose vocation I admire the most have something in common: They are all transgressive. That is, they are unconventional in how they do things, and often in a way that is challenging to the status quo. I don't think this is an accident-- I think it has something to do with seizing agency in your work, out of principle. It's very rare that I see someone who strictly follows convention, for example, who really impresses me. For that matter, I rarely see in those people that thing Jennifer names first-- joy.

And me, I'm all for joy.

sadly, I have become all too conventional. I used to challenge the status quo in my volunteer political and civic work, but what with a crushing mortgage and kids that demand time and money, I have become the man in the gray flannel suit.
My dear,in that long overwhelming equasion you just delineated the only thing you really need are the kids. As a girl whose daddy worked long,backbreaking hours on the farm,and so had few moments that were not tinged with worry and stress,I can tell you now,that I would have rather had more of him and less of money and things.Your children,your adorable,smart,funny and creative children,would rather have you. Get rid of the damn house. Simplify,simplify,simplify. Move in with The Professor. Run towards joy.
I guess IPLawGuy can move in with me-- I did that to him once.
Unfortunately the name of the life game these days is convention not vocation, be it for pressing obligations or the strive for a successful career. America used to be the world champion of unconventional, the place where vocation trumped all, not so much anymore but still. Only in America could a brilliant physicist develop a system to understand and analyze the complex mechanisms of cancer pathways, become a full professor at a prestigious ivy league school, the head a department; eliciting the respect of an entire medical and scientific establishment and most importantly, surrounding himself with equally unconventional people. All that without even holding a PhD. I’m talking about my current boss, an epitome of unconventional, a perfect example of vocation and the magic vocation spins. Those fortunate enough to experience vocation know that what they feel is far more than joy, it is blessing and they almost always act in kind.
DM Corbett’s recent post, “Underlying Christ’s teachings is an understanding of the role of mortal life. He clearly viewed the purpose of life to center around its quality, not its length.”

Joyous moments, are often those most unexpected and ‘always’ shared – with another (or others) or the Spirit within. Opportunities to share are more numerous than we can imagine – we need only look and see.

Years ago, an older Amish gentleman leaned closer and whispered, “The reward for a job well done is the opportunity to do another job.” My recollection is much more vivid of the gentleman – than the task completed. . .

Today Marta has introduced us to her current boss (may I assume, each of us has cherished our time – or seeks to someday spend time with – as an inspiring a soul), and last year when vocations were discussed – she introduced us to Carlos, someone who also inspires. . .

Is life’s vocation not the sharing of our ‘gifts’ and Spirit with another, and the reason that brought us together of less importance? In most encounters (endeavors), the more hands we join together, the more opportunities that are presented to be both student and teacher.

When the bridles, reins and fences of conformity are thrown off, so much more is possible. Treasured memories enhance the quality of life, and the more that are enjoyed lengthens life’s list of experiences – The best of both worlds. . .
"I'm all for joy."
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