Frederick Buechner says, “Vocation is the place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.” That is one of my all-time favorite quotes and it has guided me many times in seeking to discern my own calling and purpose in this world. Sometimes we are blessed enough to find our vocation, and occasionally we might even receive income from our vocation. I believe finding all of this in one place is a divine gift.
Living our vocation brings a sense of belonging, an inner knowing that, “This is what I am here for.” I have felt this at times in my counseling practice, in spiritual direction, in retreat leading, and most recently in teaching meditation/contemplative practices.
Sunday evening a group of thirteen of us launched into a new eight-week Mindfulness and Heartfulness Based Stress Reduction course. For two hours I was in heaven, finding deep fulfillment in being right where I belong. This belonging was both a divine gift and a treasure made possible by the attentive participation of the group. In practicing mindfulness and heartfulness through eating meditation, listening meditation, a body scan, and dance together we began to be a spiritual community.
I have a general outline for each session of the course, but I do not plan exactly what to say ahead of time. This kind of teaching is more like letting truths arise from the class interaction. As the session progressed I could truly ask, “Who is the teacher?” because of being open to let experience and inspiration in the moment guide the teaching. And many of the truths came from the participants and their experience.
This is one of the blessings of continuing daily practices over decades. Truth arises from direct experience. Such sharing is a long way from media sound-bites by politicians who boast of personally fixing all the country’s problems through some ill-defined plan they have hatched. This vocation involves simply saying, “Here is how this works in me.”
Spending two hours with this new group was invigorating because I felt such a sense of being right where I belong in the world. My calling to teach meditative practices which help us fall into the presence of God was immediate, visceral, and felt like my whole being was vibrating and resonating in the present moment. I believe my “deep gladness” was meeting “the world’s deep need.”
Thanks be to God that I will be in the company of two more such groups today, and that this is now my life. Spending each day with individuals and groups who are seeking to center themselves in the presence of God is my place of belonging. What’s yours?