Saturday, April 16, 2011
Waiting for the Call
In a way, I envy my son the certainty of a calling. It has been some time since I could claim any certainty about my "mission in life." When hiking, I relish the opportunity to wander aimlessly for a while, admiring the flowers and the view along the way. In life, however, aimless wandering soon leaves me restless, searching for the magnetic pull of a purpose. Amory Blaine, whose coming of age Fitzgerald chronicles in This Side of Paradise, reaches the far side of a period of disillusionment to discover a general sense of his purpose. The narrator explains:
"He found something that he wanted, had always wanted and would always want--not to be admired, as he had feared; not to be loved, as he had made himself believe; but to be necessary to people, to be indispensable."
I learned long ago that no one is indispensable. However, that desire to be necessary resonates with me. For me, the need goes a bit further. I want to be necessary to people, but also to God. I crave the feeling that the universe somehow needs me. I like the idea of the interconnectedness of life. For instance, it's pretty nifty that for one in every five breaths I take I owe a debt of gratitude to Prochlorococcus, an oceanic microbe that no one even knew existed until 1986. More powerful is the philosophy that all human experience is intertwined: the present linked to the past and the future, individual lives all dependent on the weaving that binds disparate threads into complex patterns.
Still, demanding soul that I am, I want more. I want to know specifically how I can lift my corner of the universe. Long ago, I pledged to consecrate all that I am and have to God. It's a lofty pledge, noble...and sometimes rather vague. I find myself looking for a blueprint. Even a scrap of paper with a quick note will do, like the ones I tack on the fridge for my own children. "Dear daughter, I need you to spiff up that tiny spot in the corner over there. Use that cleaning bucket of talents I gave you--the blue one this time--and make it sparkle."
For whatever reason, God seems generally loath to hand out the task and the tools at the same time. Either he gives us a task and leaves us to figure out a plan of attack, or he helps us find our set of tools and talents and then leaves us to figure out a use for them.
Today I pondered this notion of consecration. I have found that when I give in to impatience and try to design my own calling, I invariably spin my wheels. I gain greater traction when I throw my effort into finding and developing my talents, sharpening the tools. If I listen hard and exercise what little patience I possess, eventually something nudges me down the right path. Perhaps the trick to consecration, then, sometimes rests in consecrating the desire to serve. Perhaps if I do that and stop obsessively checking my cosmic mailbox every day for a call, I will in time find myself serving in meaningful ways.