"So we end where we began, asking 'What am I called to do for the rest of my life?' Discerning your vocation is a lifelong process of learning to follow Jesus. What is your next right step? What are you called to do to be a faithful disciple in these times, in this world? Who and how are you called to be now?
"You have probably already said yes to God's call, maybe many times over in your twenty or thirty or fifty or more years. Perhaps you are well settled into God's niche for you. But you will know in your heart when the space opens in your life to listen again for new direction. You will feel the gentle or not-so-gentle prodding of the Spirit. You will find yourself listening again for the rhythm of God's voice.
"Vocation is lived in a wide variety of ways; there are many different pathways even in one faithful life.
"Yet you know how easy it is to settle into life, to stop listening for that still small voice. The busy-ness of your daily activities consumes your time and attention. You run from one serious responsibility to another, one important event to another. Your mind is full of plans and concerns. You live with 'surround-sound' and unrelenting instantaneous communication.
"Stop. Create the space to listen. Allow yourself the time to hear what God is saying in your life. Be still enough to see, really see, what is going on in the world and to ask how you might respond, how you might participate in the healing of the world, and thereby your own healing.
"Believe that yours is a call to the fullness of life. Allow that reality to infuse every corner of your being: your spirituality, your values, what you care about, how you use your time and resources, your relationships, your work.
"No matter where you are or what your calling, try to deepen your reflections on your vocation. Pray for the guidance of the Spirit. Fill the canvas of your life with new possibilities. Enrich what you are already doing by making it conform more intentionally to the gospel. Shape your decisions about life more deliberately by a commitment to the New Creation.
"Remember that you can discover a new vocation at any time of your life. You can respond to more than one call at a time. Vocation is about the totality of how we live the gospel in these times.
"Think of all the places where you might hear God's voice more clearly and make sure you go there regularly.
"Our God is full of surprises. Over and over again, she invites us to follow in ways that we don't expect or understand into places we had not planned to go. We have many opportunities to catch the cadence of her voice.
"Look very carefully at the reality of the world into which we are sent, with all its hopes and fears, joys and sorrows, which, if you are open to them, will soon become your own. Have the courage to ask why the brokenness you see is so pervasive, why the beauty is so rarely seen. Ready yourself to be changed, converted, to find God as you are called and respond to new vocations. You will begin to recognize the cadence of God's call and it will begin to make sense to you in ways you never thought possible.
"Open yourself to a dialogue of the heart with those who are hurting or marginalized, violated or forgotten. The reality they live may help you hear God more clearly or give you the courage to respond. A Christian vocation will often lead us to the margins: 'Whatsoever you do to the least of these. . .' But what to do when we get there can be the question. Listen there to the inner voice. Ask how you can be present to those who are hurt or forgotten. Integrate a response to their needs and work for social justice with them or on their behalf in what you are already doing or what you are called now to do. How will your next steps make their next steps easier, less painful, less frustrating?
"Discern in community God's call for you. Remember always that you live in a global community, but also be or become part of a community closer to home, a community that shares your faith and values. Whether your primary community is your family or your parish or a circle of friends or an intentional community that lives together, sharing life day by day, or a worshiping community that journeys together from a bit more distance, lean on your community as you listen for God's call.
"Tune your soul also to God's song in creation. The groaning of creation in our times is in tune with the rhythm of God's call. Listening to the cry of the earth sharpens our capacity to hear God's voice. Allow the harmony you begin to discern in creation to open your heart to new challenges in life.
"You know in your soul whether or not you are living faithfully the vocation or vocations to which you have been called. Take the next right step. God is calling through loved ones and community, through a broken and hungry world, through the beauty or the cry of creation.
"Listen! Catch the rhythm of God's voice. Do you hear?
"The fulfillment of vocation is celebration of life in God (Blessed are you. . . Happy are you. . . ) celebration that is life in God:
"Blessed are the poor; blessed are the poor in
spirit . . .
Blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the comforters . . .
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice . . .
Blessed are the peacemakers . . .
"You are invited to the fullness of life. By stopping to listen, by nurturing right relationships, by moving to the margins, by ensconcing ourselves in communities committed to faithful discipleship, by living in harmony with the rest of creation perhaps, just perhaps, we will catch the cadence of God's voice and hear the call or calls that are ours."