One of my favorite writers, Kathleen Norris, wrote so eloquently in The Cloister Walk that “a prophet’s task is to reveal the fault lines hidden beneath the comfortable surface of the little worlds we invent for ourselves, the national myths as well as the little lies and delusions of control and security that get us through the day.”
Norris writes intensely and powerfully about “call” and “calling” in The Cloister Walk. I was amazed by how much she writes directly to what I’ve been struggling with over the last few years, about fleshing out one’s calling, and about not being afraid to say one is Called by God.
For indeed, many in our society think those a called life is a bit trite, arrogant, and presumptuous. I have heard the arguments and comments before, “who are you to call yourself prophet, healer, poet, or shepherd? I know you, you are not qualified for that…you are far from perfect.”
Well, I say, how dare you not to live a called life! In my estimation, living an uncalled life is the same as what Socrates said about living the unexamined life – it is not worth living! In fact, it’s not life – it’s robotic.
Kathleen Norris goes on to say this railing against a called life “would explain our mania for credentials, which allows us a measure of objectivity in assessing our differences. Credentials measure what is quantifiable; they represent results.”
But I sense deeply in my heart that living a Called Life is a process; a dynamic relationship. A call is meeting, between pain and joy, hope and despair, fear and love – and it is the ultimate meeting, with God. How does one “credential” a calling like that? Does the need for being a professional replace the hunger for passion, compassion, intimacy and mission?
According to the “World”, if I call myself a shepherd, a poet, or a healer I am presumptive. If I say I know why God put me on this earth, people think me arrogant. And just exactly what are my credentials? But if you call me poet, prophet, or a shepherd, then it becomes “acceptable.”
But I say who exactly is doing the “calling” (or better said, naming the calling) at this point? And who has the authority to issue a call? For me, it is God alone, not any human being or even myself. I am merely the responder. Kathleen Norris hits the heart just right when she says that when one is called, like a prophet, or a poet, we must surrender all human need for credentials, “accepting only the authority of the call itself.”
I pray we can all muster the courage to be so REAL and seek out God and God’s call upon our lives that we find fire in the belly and passion in the hearts to live such ennobled lives.