Thursday, May 26, 2016

To be called...

photo by J. Grandbois
“Behind every specific call, whether it is to teach or preach or write or encourage or comfort, there is a deeper call that gives shape to the first: the call to give ourselves away - the call to die.”  Michael Card, The Walk: The Life-changing Journey of Two Friends

“The tailor put on the girdle, and resolved to go forth into the world, because he thought his workshop was too small for his valor.” Jacob Grimm, The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales

What does it mean to be called? Those of a religious or spiritual bent might say that to be called is to hear the voice of God or The Universe directing you towards a higher purpose; to do something that would serve the greater good and better the world.

Others might say that it isn't related to a higher purpose at all but that to be called is simply your subconscious sorting through all of the mental distraction and debris of life in order to point you down the path that will be most fulfilling for you. And then there are those that would say what we'd refer to as a being called is simply our own ego, our self centered nature, trying to convince us that our individual life has more purpose and meaning than those of our fellow humans.

How do we know if the call is genuine? Whether we believe it is God, The Universe, or our own deeper selves, how do we avoid the trap of ego? To be chosen, to believe that I might be singled out from amongst the seven million human beings on this planet to do a particular something rings dangerously close to hubris to me. If it is my own mind? We humans have a talent for self delusion and a desire to be unique. What sense of self importance makes us believe that we are somehow different than the rest of the world. Is it that we simply talk ourselves into believing we are "more special" than our neighbors, friends and family?

When we think of those who are called to do something we think of the saints, teachers, those who speak out against injustice, artists and adventurers of the world, but there are dictators, tyrants and those who seek to oppress those different than they in our world. Do they feel called too? Our concept of just what serving the greater good means is a very individual thing. The dictator who seeks to purge the world of a particular race and the volunteer scrubbing pots in the soup kitchen might both see their actions as God's work. In our history there were scientists who tested on the mentally ill, the disabled, and those who they saw as less than human, in order to pursue what they saw as a greater good.

And what of those who hesitate? Those who hear a call, but ask, "Why me? Who am I to think I can do this thing? Am I crazy?" Are those who are called but proceed forward with doubt in their pocket, more likely to avoid the pitfalls of ego?

I'm not sure any of these questions have concrete answers (few questions of this sort do). If there are answers I am certainly not the person who has found them. But I am contemplating the questions...