This is what I aspire to, the one vocation that all human beings, (and probably dogs too), are called to: Let Love Rule. And the only way I know to even half-way live this vocation is to spend time in God’s presence as often as possible. Besides my time in the presence at home this week, I was blessed to get to be in ten of our contemplative practice groups. And throughout the week I had opportunities to share the resulting loving-kindness with others like Chris, who showed up at the church door needing food Thursday afternoon. What a marvelous gift is this one vocation with two parts: practicing the presence and living the Love.
Thomas Merton’s Seven Story Mountain is a book about his search for faith. In it he describes this one vocation as follows: “…there is only one vocation. Whether you teach or live in the cloister or nurse the sick, whether you are in religion or out of it, married or single, no matter who you are or what you are, you are called to the summit of perfection: you are called to a deep interior life perhaps even to mystical prayer, and to pass the fruits of your contemplation on to others. And if you cannot do so by word, then by example. Yet if this sublime fire of infused love burns in your soul, it will inevitably send forth throughout the church and the world an influence more tremendous than could be estimated by the radius reached by words or by example. St. John of the Cross writes: ‘A very little of this pure love is more precious in the sight of God and of greater profit to the church, even though the soul appear to be doing nothing, than are all other works put together.’”
Jesus called us to this one vocation simply. In essence he said: “stay close.” Those words are not recorded in Christian scripture. But here is what he did say, “Whoever serves me must follow me (literally “come here after me”). Wherever I am, there my servant will be also,” (John 12:26). I believe Jesus meant, “Stay close. Be where I am.” To me this means both parts of the vocation: “be one with God/Love, and join me in putting love in action.”
Merton and St. John of the Cross both seem to say this one vocation of oneness and radiating loving-kindness is more powerful and transformative than any words or specific actions we can attempt. The “sublime fire of infused love” wants to burn its way into the hearts of all God’s creatures, and we can be vessels of this love.
So yes, we all get caught up in trying to fill our own emptiness with a million other tangible things. We submit to what the Buddhists call the “Hungry Ghost” of desire, like when I watched five different shows on Netflix Friday night. Really!
But after pursuing the filling that never fills, don’t we long to turn around and find the one vocation that really fills the inner being, the way called “Let Love Rule.” I invite you to join me in this one pursuit, after you finish watching all the Netflix movies or whatever you fall into to disappear for a while. After you turn around, follow Jesus. Stay close. Live the one vocation. Let Love Rule.
For more stories like this see Monks in the World: Seeking God in a Frantic Culture, now available as a Kindle book.