This isn’t a question about who I am in relation to you or my family, nor is it a question for others to answer for me. Read the title aloud to yourself three times, pausing in between each reading, as if using it for lectio divina. What response arises within?
The Journey to Authenticity class I’ve been taking is all about folks who have come together because we’re trying to answer this very question. Each of us, on our own journeys, have come to a point in our lives where we’re trying to figure this out. We may have hoped to get the fast-food version of self-discovery — get it now and get it quick. The truth remains, however, that the specifics of our individual calling can only be heard by ourselves. The “still, small voice” doesn’t come over an intercom but gently from within, and we have to listen carefully and discern what we hear, think, and feel to discover what is true and what is not true to ourselves.
According to Parker Palmer in Let Your Life Speak and to many others who have covered the topic of spirituality, purpose and calling, “Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic selfhood.” This is the purpose for each of us, universally, but it is also “the universal tendency to want to be someone else.” How often have we wanted to be like so and so, running ourselves into the ground, being miserable as we try to achieve what may not be ours to have? I love the Hasidic tale Palmer shares to illustrate this:
Rabbi Zusya, when he was an old man, said, “In the coming world, they will not ask me: ‘Why were you not Moses?’ They will ask me: ‘Why were you not Zusya?'”
This is what it’s all about. Each of us living into our role in this life, filling a great need, not only for ourselves but for others, ultimately for the glory of God, if you believe that, or at least for the benefit for all, no matter what you believe. And for all the group therapy, coffee talk, breakdowns, ecstasy, exploration, we will find as we get closer to what is Real, “that the sacred center is here and now — in every moment of the journey, everywhere in the world around us, and deep within our own hearts.”
So simple. So true. So difficult.
Palmer, Parker. Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000).