A key feature of life in the Church of Christ in which I grew up is the “calling.” Because my mother’s church was anabaptist — meaning, they did not baptize in infancy but instead required that a person be able to request baptism for him or herself in late adolescence or adulthood — it was necessary to feel called to make the commitment to Christ through baptism. My mother herself was raised Catholic (and thus baptized in infancy) but felt her own call in her 20s or 30s, long before I was born. My peers in Sunday school began feeling their own callings sometime around 12 or 13, often at church camp, and were welcomed into the body of the church through full-immersion baptism.
Neither I nor any of my siblings ever felt that call.
I don’t know how they felt about it, but I remember desperately wanting to hear that call. I wanted to hear God speak to me. I wanted the peace and the serenity that seemed to come over my peers and their older siblings when they emerged from the baptismal. I wanted to know what it was to talk directly to God, to Jesus, to feel the Holy Spirit.
It never happened for me. By the time I formally left my mother’s church, about two years after she died, I had come to believe that I would never feel that call, feel the Spirit come down on me. And in fact it was the lack of that call that led me to explore other spirituality and to leave the Church of Christ behind. I wasn’t sure whether there even was a real call to be felt in that church by the time I left, but I was certain that there was no calling for me.
I’ve been thinking about callings a lot over the last year, and about the ways that they can come to us. I have resisted the idea of a spiritual calling for myself for a long time, perhaps for as long as I’ve been doing priestess work. The idea of claiming my work as a calling had overtones of ego that I wanted to avoid — and Goddess knows, there are enough overinflated egos in the Pagan world without adding mine. No, my path was to be an intellectual, a thinker, a doer, a teacher. But to refer to it as a calling was to evoke aspects of my religious upbringing that I thought I had left behind — to invoke a Divine that was far more involved in the affairs of humans than I typically think of my Goddess being.
No, I would not think of this work as a calling. It is a job. Priestess is, after all, a verb.
In these ever darkening times, I find myself wondering. I find myself thinking of the work I do for justice, of the spaces I create and hold, as something I am meant to do on a larger scale. Thinking that there is more than a touch of the Goddess in what I am doing in the world, in what I am wanting for the world. I’ve been having these thoughts since long before November 9, since long before Donald Trump came on the political scene, but in the two weeks since our world turned upside down I find myself thinking them ever more, of feeling a stirring within me that comes from someplace deeper than I ever thought I contained.
I don’t know if this is a calling, or at least I don’t know if it’s the calling I heard about in church as a little girl, the calling I so desperately wanted to hear.
This isn’t what I imagined my life’s work looking like, not by a long shot.
But I’ll be damned if this isn’t it. If this isn’t the place where I am, and if it’s not a place where I’m needed.