Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in our heart.
Rumi, a thirteenth century Sufi
A few years ago there was an advertisement on SBS television portraying people who have drifted into some form of work without having given the nature of that work or their desire for it much thought, or who took on a job for just a few months but ended up staying in it much longer than they ever intended, as the years drifted by. It was aimed at encouraging people to think about what they really want to do and then to take action, realizing that it is never too late to study or train for that work. The catch line was: I want to do the work I really want to do! Particularly at this time of the year as people return to work after the summer holiday, the question of work and career and just how happy or content we may be can loom large in our thinking. Our work, our career, may span up to 40 or 50 years and we are directly engaged in that for a large portion of each week and each day. It is something that deserves much thought and discernment, and indeed, soul-searching.
When the great Indian leader, and deeply spiritual, Mahatma Gandhi was asked if he had a message to give the people, he replied, ‘My life is my message’. Gandhi’s life of simplicity and service was his message. This is what he valued, and therefore it was how he lived. Each of our lives is also a message which says something of the philosophy and the beliefs we hold. This includes beliefs about the nature of life and of ourselves, what is beautiful and good and true, the spiritual dimension of life, and most significantly, what is worth devoting our life to. Much of this lies deep within us and may often be unconscious and unrecognised. We need to bring it into our awareness. In order to make our life our message, as Gandhi did, we need to discover and acknowledge those deepest principles and beliefs about life and ourselves and seek to embody them and express them in our work.
To what is your heart drawn? What is really important in your life? What really matters? What would you be better off doing more of, less of? These are the essential questions we must reflect upon. Deep within every life there is something eternal happening. St Ignatius of Loyola exclaimed that we are ‘from God, of God and for God’. If we truly believe that, then we will recognise that what lies deep within us is indeed sacred, holy. It is of God. It is, in fact, God come to visible expression in each of us! When we look at ourselves in this way we see the immense significance of what we do, our career, our work. This is what we mean when we speak of a vocation. The word ‘vocation’ comes from the Latin vocare, to call, and that is truly what it is, a calling. The work, the career we choose, when understood to be a vocation, is a calling forth of who we most deeply are. And we then need to make the necessary choices in order to pursue the path that will allow us to express and fulfil that.
Ms Kerry McCullough
Spirituality and Liturgy Coordinator