Vocation is not so much what we do, it’s how we do it. It’s not so much a question of occupation but of operation and orientation, the way in which we do things and the posture we take. One of the best ways of summing up this mode is in terms of gratitude and thanksgiving.
I’ll never forget running into a friend a few years ago, an older gentleman who I hadn’t seen in a while, and who had been dealing with several serious health issues among other challenges. I greeted him, “Well, how are you doing?” (fully knowing that he was not doing well at all). “Grateful,” he responded. And I could tell he meant it. I can’t fully explain why, but for some reason I’ll never forget that moment. It made an impact that I still feel rather frequently. What power that response carried with it.
Basic to our humanity is learning – through the best and worst of times – how to express gratitude and thanksgiving.
When we take on this posture and mode of gratitude and thanksgiving, that which we do becomes an offering, a sign of that deeper vocation. We might even rightly call it sacramental. It is the sacrament of taking whatever it is we put our hands to – our jobs, relationships, rest, recreation, all of it – and offering it to God in thanksgiving. It is indeed “eucharista” – thanksgiving!
Gratitude and thanksgiving. It’s the human calling we all share in together.
Yes, it’s messy. Yes, complicated. Yes, it’s easy to express thanksgiving in some seasons of life and in others not at all. I’m reminded of David’s plea in Psalm 69: 29 I’m hurt and in pain; Give me space for healing, and mountain air. 30 Let me shout God’s name with a praising song, Let me tell his greatness in a prayer of thanks! (MSG)
Through my interactions with clergy and lay leaders each week, I remain deeply concerned that we have a crisis of vocation on our hands – not simply a crisis about jobs, professions, careers (though there’s plenty of that) – but one of losing sight of our fundamental, shared humanity and the life-giving vocation of gratitude and thanksgiving.
What is it about this creaturely, beautiful, God-loved life of yours that prompts gratitude? How might we offer thanksgiving together? What signpost to resurrection might we provide with the simple response, “I’m grateful”?