Yesterday I received my redundancy letter. It was not a surprise- it has been two years plus in the writing. Neither was it entirely without choice, I have decided not to accept offers of alternative employment within the social work department.
Which brings me to this word-vocation, defined in the dictionary as
[voh-key-shuhn] Show IPA
a particular occupation, business, or profession; calling.
a strong impulse or inclination to follow a particular activityor career.
a divine call to God’s service or to the Christian life.
a function or station in life to which
one is called by God: thereligious vocation; the vocation of marriage
But also defined here like this;
The idea of vocation is central to the Christian belief that God has created each person with gifts and talents oriented toward specific purposes and a way of life. In the broadest sense, as stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Love is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being” (CCC 2392). More specifically, in the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, this idea of vocation is especially associated with a divine call to service to the Church and humanity through particular vocational life commitments such as marriage to a particular person, consecration as a religious, ordination to priestly ministry in the Church and even a holy life as a single person. In the broader sense, Christian vocation includes the use of one’s gifts in their profession, family life, church and civic commitments for the sake of the greater common good.
I entered social work as a vocation. It was almost a priestly thing for me. This might be difficult for others to understand-it is not as though social work has a status that might be seen to deserve respect. But there are lots of parallels- both are concerned with pastoral care, both are (or were) driven by higher ideas and ideology, both are embedded in institutions in the main.
To leave a vocation is no easy matter.
Reading through the second definition of the word (above) I wonder about this suggestion that God has created each person with gifts and talents oriented toward specific purposes and a way of life. This reminds me too much of old conversations about some kind of plan that God has written for each of us in some kind of massive ledger, and woe betide us if, like Christian in Pilgrims progress, we step off the golden path into some kind of career apostasy.
Such determinism has little place in my understanding of our pilgrim journeys, but we all make choices, even if the choice is to not change a thing. I do not know clearly what my vocation is at the moment. I have some clues of course- if I was to get to the very heart of things, it would be to create– to write words that inspire and shape the thinking of others. Whether this is a realistic vocation now has to be tested!
But this bit of the definition above I can stand on firmly;
“Love is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being”
And the application of this in the ways that we come to live, this is the long road that we Christian pilgrims have to travel.