The second main thing I “do” now I’m retired is “listen, so those I’m listening to have a healing experience of God’s love.” I put that in italics because that sentence has become the latest written expression of my vocational statement I’ve developed over the years. Parker Palmer has been a great guide in this process…especially his book, Let Your Life Speak – Listening for the Voice of Vocation.
“Am I listening or lecturing?” is question that guides me whenever I speak. The anxiety of what to say is often as real as ever, however it is much reduced when I simply follow my vocation rather than expectations, real or imagined of others or myself. Being retired from permanent employment helps a lot.
Before I say more about listening I want to briefly talk about simple living. One of the blessings / graces I received from God was Linda agreeing to be my life partner, over 30 years ago. Her love has guided many of our decisions over the years. Her question / encouragement about what I was going to do with my life helped me stick to a job longer than 2 years. As I wrestled with why that was so hard I came to the awareness that spiritual care was what I really wanted to do. That led me to training in CPE and Spiritual Direction. Which turned into employment at Concordia and Health Science hospitals and eventually Grace Bible Church.
Part of the process of focussing on one occupation helped me come up with that vocation statement – or my deepest calling, helping me grow into my authentic self-hood and “path of authentic service”, p.16 in Palmer’s book. My vocation statement expresses who I believe I am, with God’s help. What I “do” is easiest, most loving and fulfilling when it’s an expression of my authentic self, as my last blog talks about. Now I’m retired my vocation of listening is still being best expressed in spiritual direction sessions, or to use a more 21st century expression – spiritual companioning or spiritual counselling. My webpage, stephenmurphy.ca describes this form of listening. If this kind of conversation interests you please contact me.
The spiritual care I presently give at HSC is an ongoing expression of that vocation. In my everyday living I try and listen to everyone I meet and to creation as well. That part of
“expressing my vocation” gets me out of the house and this introverted, shy self. Of course listening to God and myself is crucial as well. Interesting how being oneself – doing one’s vocation -becomes love.
Sounds like what St. Ignatius was trying to encourage – “The glory of God is a human being ‘fully alive’.” Some call this translation disingenuous, causing Christianity to become a cult of self-fulfillment and self-expressionists and “churches merely self-improvement societies.” -(from an online article in TOUCHSTONE) IMHO, Jesus was the best expression of a “human being ‘fully alive’” modelling for us what it mean to fully human, which is why I follow his way despite the voices of those trying to control what I am to believe about him. But I digress.
To recap – being retired is allowing me to pay more attention to how I listen – to God and to self, to others, to creation. It’s interesting that those are all ways that God communicates with me so what comes around really does goes around. Next blog is about creating which is gift / grace from God that I really didn’t ask for…I guess that’s what grace is. Good topic for this time of year. I have to include my latest favourite band The Brilliance and latest favourite Christmas song I mentioned on Twitter @smurphy512. –
– next time – Love, Listen, Create – Part 3 will reveal the grace and exciting world of stained glass and Windows of Grace– click if you what a jump start on that blog.