In New Seeds of Contemplation, Thomas Merton asks, “How do you expect to arrive at the end of your own journey if you take the road to another man’s city? How do you expect to reach your own perfection by leading somebody else’s life?” Merton insisted is that we need to have the “heroic humility to be yourself and to be nobody by the [person], or the artist, that God intended you to be.”
It is fine to have heroes, people whose lives and commitment to their vocation we admire and aspire to be like. Their example gives us inspiration and strength.
But each of our lives is unique and how we live out our vocation, our discipleship, will look different.
How do we know what it means to live our own life? How do we reach our own perfection? We are exploring questions such as these at our semi-annual vocation retreat for law students this weekend.
Anthony deMello expressed one answer in a story he once told of a conversation between a Master and one of his disciples. The disciple, a Jewish man, asked, “What good work should I do to be acceptable to God?” The Master answered, “How should I know? Your Bible says that Abraham practiced hospitality and God was with him. Elias loved to pray and God was with him. David ruled a kingdom and God was with him too.” The man persisted, “Is there some way I can find my own allotted work?” The Master responded, “Yes. Search for the deepest inclination or your heart and follow it.”
What is your deepest desire?
I would only add the further wise counsel: “Do what you do best for those who need it most.”