Last week, I drank in the words and images from the Independent Lens episode, The Calling like a person walking through a desert. I’m sure much of my fascination with this show stems from my own overwhelming sense of God’s call on my life and the struggle to live into that call each day. I also realize that not many people relate to those experiences and, consequently, they aren’t represented in books, TV or movies very often.
Though I relish that producers and directors of Independent Lens took the time to tell the story of religious leaders living their calling, I realize that idea of experiencing a call from God is unusual — something we think of happening to Biblical characters like Moses or Mary, but not to us right here and right now.
But, it is about us right here and right now. Independent Lens directors interviewed dozens of people ranging from snowboarders to community activists to artists to answer the question: What’s your calling? All of these people talk about their calling a little differently. But, all of them have tapped into what they are passionate about, what their gifts are and how they use those parts of themselves to make a difference in the world.
Jennifer Bailey, one of the people featured in this video project, talks about her own calling to advocate for people of Nashville, Tennessee who live in neighborhoods known as “food deserts.” Those places are where there is no grocery store within a mile of their homes. She received a fellowship after college to work with Community Food Advocates’ Re/Storing Nashville campaign, which works to make quality food more readily available to people in these neighborhoods.
Toward the end of the video clip she says, “I felt convicted by God and by my Christian faith to do this work. And, so if you hear something in your heart and it won’t go away. Listen.” Time and again, however, young people are told not to listen to those compelling voices or to chase their passions. They are told to be practical, get an education and earn enough money to support themselves and their families. I think if many of adults were honest with themselves they would say that this way of living life isn’t really enough. You may have to be practical, but you also have to do those things ignite your passion and use your gifts in order to make a difference in the world.
I agree with Jennifer, I don’t think experiencing a calling requires any more of us than asking the question, “God, what do you want me to do?”, listening for the answer and then doing something about what God is telling us.