Your vocation, or calling, is a precious thing. It is important to revisit it from time to time, to see what new insights may be found. Use these questions to guide the construction of a visual that can help you think more deeply about the path you are walking. Consider where you are, where you have been along the way, and where you might be called to go.
Plan for about thirty minutes for this reflective activity. Pause, breathe, and be intentional as you move into this contemplative time.
Mark the Path
On a piece of blank paper, or on a page in your journal, draw an image of a path or road. If preferred you can start with a simple line. Using words or symbols, mark the path with the following categories:
- Big Moments: Mark the significant things you have said “yes” to along the way. Identify, as well, the directions not taken. Indicate in some manner all the important places where – as the Quakers say – “way” has opened and closed for you. Consider how to depict the harder formative moments in your life’s journey as well as the joyful or glorious ones.
- True Names: Think about all the ways you are known: i.e., parent, spouse, supervisor, colleague, community member, service provider, entrepreneur, change agent, American, son, daughter, sibling, friend, alum, neighbor, hiker, bird-watcher, painter, gardener, engineer, musician, artist, child of God. Give prominence to the names that for you make the biggest claim on who you really are.
- Guides: Mark the relationships and people that have shaped your vocation. Some may be more formal guides, like teachers or mentors. Some may be more informal or personal influences, like friends or family members or children. You may choose to include, as well, those who have taught you by negative example or caused hurt.
- Gifts: Surround the image of your path or road with words that describe the gifts you know in yourself, and those that others have noticed in you.
- The World’s Hunger: Write the deepest needs in the world around you as you see and hear them, given your expertise and vantage point. Identify those that impact or otherwise intersect with your path.
Ponder the Path
Pause and ponder what you have created. What do you see? What aspects of your path are drawing or holding your attention today? Linger with those words or images. Consider why they might be important now.
Listen and attend to what arises from deep within you as you ponder this image you have created. Which questions or directions call for more exploration?
If you are a person of faith, prayerfully look at your image again, this time picturing God considering it alongside you. What do you see together? What do you hear?
Find a trusted friend, guide or mentor to look at your image with you, or prayerfully call upon an ancestor or holy guide to offer insight. What do they see or hear? What do they point to or call to your attention?
Tend the Path
Think about the ways you can tend and care for your path, as well as the questions, insights or other stirrings that arose for you in your time creating and pondering your image of it. Then, make one concrete plan for something you will do this month to attend to your call and nourish your vocation.
End with Gratitude
Date the image you created and put it in a special place where you can find it easily. Revisit and review it from time to time, as a snapshot representation and reminder of your vocation.
Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.
–Frederich Buechner, 1983, Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation
About our Image: An avid traveler, LFP’s Beth McPherson frequently captures images of spaces that inspire her. In 2011, she walked the path in Trieste that served as inspiration in the early 1900’s for poet Rainer Maria Rilkes’s well-known Duino Elegies. To learn more about Rilke’s poetry, visit Poem Hunter.