Listening to Your Life

Surrounded by coffee, waffles, and the buzzing of Spencer’s Coffee, our campus ministry peer minister and I are reading through Parker Palmer’s book, Let Your Life Speak, together, and we talk about what struck us in this week’s readings. We sat down to for our first book chat and my peer minster highlighted the way in which Palmer begins the book: “Ask me whether what I have done is my life.”

Parker pulls this line from the poem, “Ask Me,” by William Stafford. The first time I read through this book I was in the very early stages of discerning a calling to the priesthood. I have read it several times since then and in a variety of stages of life, but my favorite way to read this book is in partnership with someone who is at a different stage of life. It is such a gift to have a conversation partner who sees not only each chapter through their own particular lens, but also the whole world. It’s my favorite way to read through this book partially because this opening line is never not a bombshell dropped into our current situation.

The opening chapter goes on to introduce the idea of listening to one’s life; to listening for God’s calling upon it:

Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue. It means a calling that I hear. Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am. I must listen for the truths and values at the heart of my own identity, not the standards by which I must live – but the standards by which I cannot help but live if I am living my own life.†

Our conversation floated from concerns about the future to stories from the past; we gently shifted from talking about our lives and vocations to our prayers and the challenges held therein. Because whether it’s a college senior on the verge or a major life shift or a somewhat newly ordained chaplain, we’re all trying to listen to our life and what God might be calling us to do.

Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of your faithful people is governed and sanctified: Receive our supplications and prayers, which we offer before you for all members of your holy Church, that in their vocation and ministry they may truly and devoutly serve you; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.  

Collect for All Christians in their Vocation, BCP 256

Mother Becca is always available for coffee, waffles, and chats about books, vocation, or the future.

† Palmer, Parker. Let Your Life Speak. 4-5.

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