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A Calling and a Vocation

January 18, 2020

I have been thinking a lot today about vocations. In part as I prepare for tomorrow’s sermon I was thinking about the call of the disciples to follow Jesus. What were they called to be and to do? They were called to be witnesses to the Jesus’s message of grace and his upside down economy of love for those whom society ignored.

Thomas Merton often struggled with his calling to the silent cloister of the monastery. He often struggled with his calling to be a writer. As much as he wrote, I can sense at times his unease with the publicity and notoriety it garnered for him.

The picture above is from a quiet meadow on Old Fall River Road in the Rocky Mountain National Park. We love to spend time in the quiet and the solitude of that special place. At times though, it is far from quiet with the crowds who come to visit. Wasn’t it also the same for Merton? He had his sacred hermitage at Our Lady of Gethsemane Monastery in Kentucky. Yet this space was often violated by “fans” who just had to see him and didn’t respect the boundaries that any Monk of Gethsemane would have. The picture below is from the museum at the Monastery. It is a beautiful picture of his Hermitage in the winter.

As I reflect on these two pictures, I consider my own vocation and the need for solitude that Denise and I both require as we seek to serve the Lord. Such space is a crucial part of our own Vocational calling and our need for rest and refreshment. As I sat with these pictures and with Merton, his words about Vocation took on a deeper and richer meaning.

Discovering vocation does not mean scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach but accepting the treasure of true self I already possess. Vocation does not come from a voice “out there” calling me to be something I am not. It comes from a voice “in here” calling me to be the person I was born to be, to fulfill the original selfhood given me at birth by God. — Thomas Merton in his book, No Man is an Island.

May we find the time and the space, dear reader, to contemplate our own vocation and calling to serve the Lord.

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