Monday, September 2, 2013

"The Life You've Been Shown"

News of the death of the great Irish poet, Seamus Heaney, on Friday reminded me of a line from one of his poems that has stuck with me over the years. I can't remember which poem it is in, but I can't forget the line: "How perilous it is not to live the life you've been shown."

Like all great poets, Heaney expresses the essence of deep and great issues of human life in a few simple words. With these few words, he captures the concept of vocation. A vocation is usually expressed in the auditory term "calling." We feel or hear a sense of being called to a particular profession or to a specific way of life. An example of the latter kind of calling is John Wesley's contention that all Christians are called to a single vocation capture in the word "love."

Heaney's brilliance is that he puts the vocational issue in terms of sight or insight. When we've been "shown" the path we should walk in life, it is dangerous not to take that journey. Our world is filled with persons who have listened to the wrong voice and are living diminished lives as they suffer in working at a job they hate. In other words, they are not living the life which they have been shown.

How do we "see" our vocations? Each person must answer this question for him or herself. A vocation can come out of a spiritual quest or it can come out of working at something that is deeply fulfilling. However, once we have "seen" what we are called to be and do, we ignore this vocation at our peril. Fortunately, even though Heaney is gone, his words endure.


  1. The human soul has still greater need of the ideal than of the real. The human body is the best picture of the human soul. If you want to know more advise over spiritual body parts then contact to Amun Brown Spiritual advisejust have touch on that.