The Big Wide World of Vocations
Not sure if this is exactly what my new hip looks like but it must be pretty darn close. Isn't it amazing? I am even glued together with something called dermabond. This end of the ramp includes lots of physical theraphy stops and helpful meds. But I am on my way and ever so grateful - grateful to God, to my supportive community and to the professionals who made it all possible.
And that is where the notion of "the big wide world of vocations" comes from. Whenever I have the opportunity to do some public speaking on the topic of vocations I do not limit my talk to the notion of religious vocations. In Catholic circles at least, the word "vocations" tends to bring a narrow view to mind - sisters, nuns, priests and brothers. But the question of vocation is much broader and is directed to each person. It calls for an over-arching attitude that directs us to seek the will of God for our life as indicated by God's gifts and the direction we receive from God as to their use - if only we open ourselves to that direction. These factors are often lacking from the equation most people use when determiningly their choice. More common factors are: what will pay me the most; what will offer the most prestige; what will satisfy my ego; what will make for a secure future? Many do take into account their interests and their skills but those earlier items carry a lot of weight. I like to encourage parents and young people from the very beginning to consider the question of life direction, career choice, etc. under the broad rubric of vocation, that is God's desire and will and specific call to the individual.
I was reminded of the truly broad scope of the vocation issue in every life when I observed and benfited from the skilled and compassionate care of registered nurses and their support staff while I was hospitalized. Truly, nursing is a vocational call. And it isn't always the easiest choice, the best paying profession offering the best work hours and conditions, or the one most respected. But men and women in the profession have told me of their call, their felt desire to relieve suffering, their certainty that they had something special to offer those in pain and in need of healing. Many would never say it was a call from God or that their choice was an expression of their desire to follow God's will. But they will all say they listened to that small vice within calling them in a certain direction. How grateful I am that they listened to that voice.
This is an inner attentiveness which we have to encourage and cultivate in our children. They need to know that their life's work, their vocational choice, matters tremendously. It matters not only to them but to the society in which they live. The right choice, the informed choice increases their chance for happiness and satisfaction and their abiltiy to make a difference in our world.