The word “vocation” is sitting under many of my thoughts these days as I walk through this 50th year of religious life. It surfaces each time a gathering comes along where I am called to answer the question, “How are you?” asked by people who haven’t seen me in awhile. It comes from the Latin verb meaning to call and as a noun is used to define our work in life. Meg Wheatley quotes Paulo Freire, a Brazilian and world educator who often said that we have a “vocation to be fully human.” She goes on from there to give some thoughts worthy of pondering. See what you think.
We don’t decide what our vocation is, she says, we receive it. It always originates from outside us. Therefore, we can’t talk about vocation or a calling without acknowledging that there is something going on beyond our narrow sense of self. It helps remind us that there’s more than just me, that we’re part of a larger and purpose-filled place.
Even if we don’t use the word vocation, most of us want to experience a sense of purpose to our lives…I believe we become more fully human with any gesture of generosity, any time we reach out to another rather than withdraw into our individual suffering. To become fully human we need to keep opening our hearts, no matter what. At this time when suffering and anxiety continue to increase, when there is always reason to weep for some unbearable tragedy inflicted by one human on another, I try to remember to keep my heart open.
In my own experience, I notice I like myself better when I am generous and open-hearted. I don’t like myself when I’m afraid of others or angry at them…At those times, I don’t feel more human but less. I become more fully human only when I extend myself. This is how I define for myself what it means to have a vocation to be fully human. (Turning To One Another, pp. 58, 59)