I just re-read a fascinating little book titled The Call by spiritual teacher David Spangler. As the title implies, it’s all about finding your life’s calling.
Calling is an interesting word, as it can literally mean to cry or shout out, yet it also alludes to our vocation. Ideally, we want the two meanings of the word to come crashing together—we want our vocation to be shouted out to us, so that we’re absolutely certain we’re on the right path in life. But it’s usually not that easy.
So if we’re not sure, how do we find something as essential as our calling?
Well, Spangler has some ideas and they’re not all his own. He has tapped into a unique source of divine wisdom, “spirit guides” that help him find the answers to our very mortal questions. As Spangler begins working as a conduit to the spirit world and people come to him for readings, he keeps hearing variations of the same question: What is my purpose in life?
Spangler’s primary spirit guide, who goes by the name John, finds these questions puzzling because he believes the answers are so obvious. Each person’s calling is to simply to be himself or herself. In John’s words, “Take a look at your life, because in its texture and content, you will discover why you are here.”
Spangler suggests that we all possess a gift or talent that we are attracted to and like doing, and that ultimately connects us to others. This is our calling. It might be a gift for music or painting, for running marathons or teaching yoga—a gift that “not only uplifts us, but finds its fullness in being shared.”
It could also be a more subtle gift, like an ability to relate to children or an affinity for caring for animals or the environment, or even “being a great listener, one whose silence and empathy become a call in itself to draw out from others the toxins of despair or the sweet wines of enthusiasm and dreams.”
One thing to know: Spangler, even with his spirit guides, has his moments of doubt. As he says, “there have been times—sometimes long periods—when the energy of my calling seems to fade away and even disappear altogether.” It is at these times that we need to dig deep to find or rediscover “the very thing we have to offer that is uniquely our own”.
The bottom line is we all have a calling, even if it hasn’t yet surfaced. Your calling may be in the process of being formed at this very time and place, through the events and connections of your everyday life. Or your calling could be sitting right in front of you, just waiting to be embraced.
This post originally appeared in the Elephant Journal on November 12, 2010.