Tell me…do you not feel a spirit stirring within you that longs to know, to do, and to dare, to hold converse with the great world of thought, and hold before you some high and noble object to which the vigor of your mind and the strength of your arm may be given? Do you not have longings like these, which you breathe to no one, and which you feel must be heeded, or you will pass through life unsatisfied and regretful? I am sure you have them, and they will forever cling round your heart till you obey their mandate. They are the voices of that nature which God has given you, and which, when obeyed, will bless you and your fellow men.
~ James A. Garfield, in a letter to a friend
Vocation does not come from willfulness. It comes from listening. I must listen to my life and try to understand what it is truly about – quite apart from what I would like it to be about – or my life will never represent anything real in the world, no matter how earnest my intentions. That insight is hidden in the word vocation itself, which is rooted in the Latin for “voice.” 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.
~ Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak
There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.
~ Howard Thurman
Our first job is to see correctly who we are, and then to act on it. That will probably take more courage than to be Mother Teresa. To be really faithful to that truth is utterly difficult and takes immense courage and humility. We have neglected the more basic and universal biblical theme of “personal calling” in favor of priestly and religious vocations. The most courageous thing we will ever do is to bear humbly the mystery of our own reality. That’s everybody’s greatest cross.
~ Richard Rohr