Monday, 22 April 2013
Joe Cook ponders a call from Jesus Christ ...
Joe offered this reflection at St Mary Magdalene's in Bexhill as part of his contribution to Vocations Sunday. Good stuff!
‘Listen to my voice’
One of the many things I’ve enjoyed during my time on placement in Bexhill is having the privilege of doing some gardening.
Different aspects of how plants grow can speak to us about vocation.
I’d like to talk about how I’ve been discerning my own vocation, and about how God is calling all of us to listen to his voice, whatever stage of life we’re at.
Over two years ago, I decided to pursue a call to the priesthood.
Before this, I’d been reluctant even to consider the idea. This reluctance was like a garden full of weeds, which needed digging up and chucking into the green waste bin. I was reluctant to follow God’s will, thinking I had better ideas. These weeds continually need digging up right to the bottom of the roots. I experience a great sense of peace when I try to listen deeper to God’s voice.
Another important step in discerning my vocation was discovering silence and stillness. Gardens are usually pretty quiet. While you can talk to your flowers if you wish, it’s normally in silence and stillness that plants grow. Other than perhaps swaying a little in the wind, plants are still and silent. Likewise, we can listen to the will of God in a very intimate way when we sit still and find a time of silence in each day. We grow in silence.
Here’s how Winnie-the-Pooh comes down the stairs each morning: ‘bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it.’
We can begin our day more peacefully, in stillness, listening to the voice of God. I find this to be key in finding out more about my vocation.
And when we listen to the voice of God, what does He give us?
Well, plants need nourishing – water, compost, plant food.
God gives us himself as food and drink.
For me, a real sense of connection with the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist helps me to continue trying to follow God’s call. I believe that through the Eucharist, God nourishes each of us in our vocation and makes our lives bear fruit.
What are the fruits of this call from God? Frederick Buechner (American writer) says that ‘Vocation is the place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.’
I find that a good test when making a big decision is to ask, as well as challenges, does this bring me deep gladness? Am I striving to meet the needs of other people?
A fruitful garden is doing a good service to the world and fulfilling its own purpose.
I think I’ve still got a long way to go, but I hope I’m on the right path.
I believe that God wants us all to be continually listening as He has a vocation for each of us.
Each of us could repeat the words of Blessed John Henry Newman: ‘God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission.’
We can remind ourselves that it is Christ, Christ who is one with the Father, who calls us to this mission. We must listen to His voice.