“What a long time it can take to become the person one has always been. How often in the process we mask ourselves in faces that are not our own?
How much dissolving and shaking of ego we must endure before we discover our deep identity—the true self within every human being that is the seed of authentic vocation?
We arrive in this world with birthright gifts—then we spend the first half of our lives abandoning them or letting others disabuse us of them…
Then—if we are awake, aware, and able to admit our loss—we spend the second half trying to recover and reclaim the gift we once possessed.”
~ Parker Palmer, Now I Become Myself
This is one of the most frequently asked questions, whether directed to mentors, counselors, coaches, astrologers, psychics, our “believing mirrors,” and, in prayer, to the Divine: What is my purpose? Why am I here? What’s my work in the world — my reason for being here?
If it makes you (or me) feel any better, it’s said that the monk, mystic, and Cistercian Abbot, Bernard of Clairvaux — who would seem to have already figured out this question of vocation — would wake up each morning and, as he rose from his pallet, would ask, “Bernard, Bernard, why have you come here?”
This is such a great question, and one that shows the power of transformative inquiry in evoking and inviting insight and inspiration.
An array of other evocative questions that I’ve grown to appreciate, and ask regularly, includes one drawn from Frederick Buechner and Angeles Arrien:
“What has heart, joy, and meaning for me; and where does this meet the world’s need?”
And another comes from Carl Jung:
“What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes? Herein lies the key to your earthly pursuits.”
The name of Parker Palmer’s article (quoted above), Now I Become Myself, draws from a May Sarton poem that I’ve featured here in Sophia’s Children: Now I Become Myself.
The poem — and my Sophia’s Children musing — is about “wearing other people’s faces” because our own awareness of our authentic gifts and vocation have been hidden away or “educated out of us.”
As Palmer notes and we’ve likely figured out, too, we must set about on a quest to reclaim it, which is often proves quite the creative adventure and Hero and Heroine’s Journey.
Sister Joan Chittester, OSB, in “A Time to Choose a Direction,” writes this about the journey we take to reclaim our vocation and sense of purpose (and making the effort to discern just what that might be):
“The Chinese say, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”
But the aimlessness, the confusion, the anomie that go with it, wear us down, wear us out. …
Everyone needs to carry light into the darkness of the world around them so that others, too, may follow and find the way.
There are great things to be done by each of us and each of them takes great effort, requires great struggle, will face great resistance. But the way to the empty tomb goes through the mount of the cross.”
In keeping with the musingin which I explored the Virgo Magic and Mysteries — something that anyone with strong Virgo placements in their chart would experience as areas of ongoing inquiry — we delve more deeply into to these very Virgoan words: discernment and vocation.
**** Discerning Your Unique ‘Identity Essence’ – Questions that get right to the core of it (this audio program and eWorkbook are included in the Feminine Mojo Mystery School collection).
**** Proceed as Way Opens (Sophia’s Children post, quoting/mentioning Parker Palmer)
**** Our Deepest Calling (Ivy Sea Wake-Up Juice edition)
**** What Makes You Come Alive? (Ivy Sea Wake-Up Juice edition with Howard Thurman quote)
**** Following Your Bliss (and the Hero’s Journey) – Ivy Sea Wake-Up Juice edition)
**** If It’s Difficult, Is It The Wrong Path? (Sophia’s Children archives)
While we reclaim and discern these questions of our vocation, purpose, and path, it’s important to gather Believing Mirrors (and be our own), as well as discern and prune or minimize the Diminishing Mirrors and other psychic and energetic vampires and dream-crushers in our midst.
For more personalized purpose-clues, consider a Sophiastrology reading/consultation or Golden Thread Coaching consultation — or a combo/hybrid.
You’ll find current Reader & Client Appreciation specials here … click.
In the meanwhile, breathe deeply and be well.
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Many thanks, and lots of love,
September 25, 2014 at 6:03 pm
I enjoyed the various quotes you provided. I’m currently reading The Pathfinder, and am enjoying it. Martha Beck also has some great books as well. I am one of those people who is now focusing more intently on the gifts and dreams I had abandoned as a child.
September 25, 2014 at 6:40 pm
Thank you, Linda. And so beautiful that you’ve shifted (or are shifting) your focus to the gifts and dreams you came into this life with!
September 26, 2014 at 1:51 pm
maureen liked your message with Boxer.
September 26, 2014 at 2:45 pm
Hi Jamie, sorry for the above impersonal response; I am trying out a new email app, and clicked on “like” … Now I know what that does! I really do love this post, and have been copying & pasting all the perfect quotes in here to save. The one that brought immediate tears was the last one, by Sister Joan. (Come to think of it, my fifth grade teacher’s name was Sister Joan! …. Not a fave.). Anyhoo, that passage hit a current open wound; particularly, “everybody needs to know they have lived for something.” I’ve been struggling with this lately. I’m 50 now; in the 10th year of my Dark Night of the Soul*, where much change, destruction of old, and rebuilding is taking place. I know this is a good thing, but I am not able to get out there and shine right now, and I’m beginning to wonder if I ever will. I wonder now … if, how, and when I’ll be able to contribute to the world. I used to have no doubt about this. For some reason, recently I’ve become unsure. Perhaps turning 50 in June was a bit of a trauma!
September 26, 2014 at 3:08 pm
Thank you for sharing, and it’s okay that you were testing the new ‘like’ ap!
I sure do appreciate what you’re sharing, especially the extended ‘dark night’ in which, as you said, there has been ‘much change, destruction of old, and rebuilding” happened and is happening. Sounds familiar … and like a Pluto transit, or as was in my case, “Pluto and Pals” (Pluto was just the ring-leader!).
From my perspective, we have to take the question of ‘contributing’ out of the culture-box, as in how Western culture defines ‘contribution’ or ‘success’ (I was just writing on this this morning!). So much of ‘contribution’ happens as much if not more in the Unseen, so it could be interesting to consider that your experiencing and persevering through the extended ‘dark night’ is a passage of helping to birth the Divine Feminine back into shared consciousness, and that often seems to require the deconstruction of ‘the old’ — particularly if it arose out of conditioning.
I think – and I’m guessing – that this is the context Sister Joan Chittester in suggesting … more a spiritual-centered contribution rather than the ‘Wall Street and Puritan Ethic’ type definition! 🙂
I had my 50th in 2013, so happy belated 50th birthday to you. One of my favorite quotes about that is from Erica Jong, who wrote:
“At fifty, the madwoman in the attic breaks loose, stomps down the stairs, and sets fire to the house. She won’t be imprisoned anymore.”
In any case, it’s a challenging passage to be sure … the extended Dark Night, the shedding of conditioning and rebirth into the Feminine (and of the Feminine), and the passage through the Gates of Fifty. Hats off, raised glass, and Buddha bow to you, sister. 🙂
And it’s definitely a good time to nourish yourself with inspiration, Crazy Holy Grace (as Frederich Buechner called it), and Believing Mirrors (my passage through 50 didn’t include those, so I know how that feels too!).
Wishing you well, and do stay in touch!
November 2, 2016 at 5:32 pm
Reblogged this on Sophia's Children and commented:
Early this morning, Bernard of Clairvaux popped into my awareness. It’s said that he would wake up each morning and, as he rose from his pallet, would ask, “Bernard, Bernard, why have you come here?”
In that spirit, it seemed a fine time to re-feature a Sophia’s Children musing that mentions Bernard: Discerning Vocation and Purpose.
This musing includes a couple of other ‘favorite inspiration sources’, too, so may it stir your inspiration and fortify your ‘authentic purpose’ vision-seeds.
Big Love (and happy Scorpio-Samhain week!),