One of the most dangerous effects of physical trauma is internal bleeding. It is insidious because it is often invisible, at least initially; internal organs can be gravely damaged with little or no outside evidence. The victim can walk, talk, and interact often to the point of seeming fine. Meanwhile, the body suffers, and once the damage is discovered, it can be irreparable.
Recently I had the opportunity to talk about Christian call and vocation with an adult education class. Normally I have this conversation with 17-21 year old people, but last weekend the crowd was a bit older, closer to retirement age. I asked them to think about what society had told them about vocation, what the church had told them and what their experience of vocation had been.
The interesting thing this group said was that often vocation only became clear in retrospect.
In Jean Thompson’s novel The Year We Left Home, Anita extends an impulsive invitation to a mere acquaintance, Rhonda. Their lives have turned out very differently. Anita enjoys a contented home life with her husband and children, while Rhonda has endured an abusive boyfriend for far too long. So Anita invites Rhonda to her home, and says she can stay as long as she likes.
Driving home, Anita contemplates the implications of her sudden act of hospitality.
What is it called when we complete a sermon, art, poetry, song or writing, and there is a bit of our soul that takes form and shape? Wisdom takes on paint. Beauty becomes clothed in letters. Depths of emotion become suffused in photos. When something ephemeral inside of us takes on a concrete quality that can be shared. When our art lives on after we have departed. What is it called?
Rahila Muska, a teenage girl, lived in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, a Taliban stronghold. Muska was known for regularly calling into a radio program on which women share landays, a traditional Pashtun form of poetry. Like most women who do this, Muska shared other people’s poems, not her own—to acknowledge authorship would have endangered her life.