Whether we are a faith-filled person or not, I believe that each of us feels a sense of calling; a perception that there is something in this life we are meant to accomplish. A friend of mine just announced that he is leaving the Obama administration and returning home to take over as pastor of a Presbyterian church in the Bronx – just a few miles from where he grew up. It took a lot of strength and faith for my friend to leave such a high profile job and go back to his roots as an activist pastor in an urban congregation, after a distinguished career on the national stage.
For many of us, understanding our calling in life is something we know only in retrospect. It is only when we look back at the tracks of our life can we clearly see where the path was leading. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in spending a lot of time in worry and in prayer, trying to seek an understanding of why I was put on this earth; only to be frustrated by the uncertainty.
A friend of mine- Eileen Flanagan - is a Quaker and an author. In her book “The Wisdom to Know the Difference” she talks about the Quaker tradition of following your “inkling.” First, listen intently for that quiet voice in your heart to lead you; to provide an inkling of a path. Discuss your learning with those around you who have only your own best interest at heart. And then – act on your inkling. If doors open to you – then keep going. If doors don’t open to you, it may be time for deeper reflection. This cycle of reflection, discernment and action takes both strength and faith. One needs courage to leave a path that is worn and comfortable and to step out on a new direction. And, it takes faith to believe that if you are following the inkling of your heart, the way will open. The strength to lead and the faith to follow are two ends of the same baton, if you choose to pick it up.
Picture: James Meyer Photography - June 2015
Michael Soika has been a community activist for more than 30 years working on issues of social and economic justice. His work for justice is anchored by his spiritual formation first as a Catholic and now as a Quaker.