Responsibilities of Vocation

Catherine Buck

“There is no substitute for the
conviction that one has a destiny
and is fulfilling it.”
– Kailin Stonesinger

To what do we respond when we’re responsible? From where do we get our “marching orders?” How do we know what is our work to do? So many times – for example at Stones Rising – I’ve heard folks say that they don’t know what to set their hands to, because they don’t know where they’re needed or wanted. I tell them that their help is valuable in any of our many Paths of Service, but that they should do what they’re most called to do. Some of these folks look at me like I’ve got three heads, some of them jump in and do something, and some of them thank me with a contemplative look on their faces.

What is it that I mean, when I give these folks this answer?

I mean, first, that there is work for each of us to do. There is something that needs doing that we are suited and able to do. Additionally, I mean that we will all be most fulfilled in our work if we attend to what is our work. We are a community of people, working for often common goals (connectedness, Sanctuary, the Stones, environmental sustainability, etc.) but that does not mean that we all have our work in common. Just because one person makes ceremony does not mean that everyone must do that work. Just because one person kneads the dough with the Corn Mothers does not mean that every one of us must literally feed the Tribe.

Four Quarters is a place in many ways founded on Goethe’s quotation (a version of which many of us know from the entrance to the Stone Circle), “Action has genius, power and magic in it.” We come together in the conviction that what we do matters, the work to which we set our hands matters. Service matters. We share the belief that our characters are built in part by the degree to which we put our gifts into the service of Divine, Land, and Tribe.

For many of us, the idea that we have a particular “vocation” or “calling” is a foreign one, or one laden with the baggage of previous religious experience. This concept is not one of a Divine Will being imposed upon us, in conflict with our own Will and desires. The concept of vocation is where the needs of the world meet our own deepest desires, where our gifts are needed, and where our “bliss,” as Joseph Campbell said, is expressed and fulfilled.

Sometimes – often, even – there is work to be done that simply must be accomplished, and it is set before us whether that work is deeply fulfilling or not. Working out of vocation is no excuse not to do what needs doing, or at least to make sure that it happens. It is, rather, founded on the belief that in a community this size if each of us works from our own deepest desires to respond to the needs of the group, the work will get done. Not only that, it will get done in a Good Way, as we have a habit of saying. Not everything we do will be the highest fulfillment of our hopes and dreams, and sometimes the work of our vocation is in hidden, seemingly thankless tasks, but those are no less important for being done behind the scenes.

Sometimes, there is a gap before you. Something emerges as a need, and we are invited to step into that space and make something happen. That is the perfect moment to ask what is the urgency of this need, and am I suited, able, and willing to do this work? Sometimes the answers to those questions will lead us to hard answers – either that we’re unable or unwilling to take something on, or that we will take the risk to step into a new realm of service and do our best in that place.

What makes you most happy? What are the goals that you would see made manifest? What are your hopes? Who and how do you want to be in the world? These are some of the questions that can lead us to an understanding of what our work is to do.

Spend some time thinking quietly, listening to the still, quiet voice of your heart. Spend some time giving credence to what you most hope for, most long for in the world around you and in your own life. Give those thoughts, those desires the attention they deserve, and ask yourself how you can best work towards those longings. And then take the risk to Step into the Center of your life and do the work that is yours to do.

“The Divine Will is written in the
deepest desires of our hearts.”
– Ignatian teaching