My vocation (to use the poet's term) is the spiritual life, the quest for God, which relies on the eye of the heart. My avocation is education, the quest for knowledge, which relies on the eye of the mind. I have seen life through both these eyes as long as I can remember - but the two images have not always coincided... I have been forced to find ways for my eyes to work together, to find a common focus for my spirit-seeking heart and my knowledge-seeking mind that embraces reality in all its amazing dimensions. (Parker Palmer)
When you think of a "spiritual life," what do you imagine? Perhaps you envision a guru perched on a mountain. Maybe you have thoughts of monastics or clergy. I suspect that for many of us, the idea of a call to the spiritual life puts us in mind of all sorts of other people, just not ourselves.
As a church community, we Episcopalians have a hard time grasping that all of us have a spiritual calling. Perhaps it is because of our polity: we simply assume that clergy are the ones who are "called." Perhaps we haven't fully grasped what is means to be the Body of Christ. Yet as disciples of Jesus, we were all given a vocation -- a calling. Each of us is called, according to our gifts, to pursue deeper relationship with God.
The quote above reminds me that every Christian's primary vocation is seeking and serving God. The spiritual life is about learning and re-learning how to see our lives through the lens of faith. It involves continually mining the resources that help us open our hearts to the voice of the Spirit.
Our quest for God is not just what we do in worship. Our time is simply food for the journey. And the longer you're on the journey, the more sustenance you need. One of the jobs of church is figuring out how we nurture and sustain one another so that we are all empowered to live out our vocations in all aspects of our lives. Few of us will find ourselves called to shave our heads and retreat to a mountain, but it doesn't make us any less called to pray, to love, to study or to serve in Christ's name -- that is, called to a "spiritual life."