I was thinking about my life the other day. To be honest without going into boring detail, the first two decades weren’t very remarkable – in fact, they were pretty shitty. When I was eighteen years old and taking my first mandatory theology class at Marquette University, I was first exposed to the truth that some people had conversion experiences that were so strong they immediately changed the course of their lives. I remember wondering such an experience would feel like even as I failed to recognize the process was starting deep inside me.
I confess I was a Yuppie in my twenties, but it was the eighties and that’s what we did. Still there was that draw, the inexplicable pull toward the spiritual life. I tried to run from it, but it wouldn’t go away. Eventually all of the success, all of the proving myself, even the financial rewards just lost their meaning. It still was a few years before I had sorted everything out and started following what I then described as the call of God. Now I recognize that there really isn’t a simple label that can be slapped on my spiritual journey that would do it justice. The truth is that the path has been for me irresistible. That’s saying quite a bit given how much I despised Church as a child and teenager. The path has led me to do things I never thought I would do, to make choices that I didn’t think I would make, and if I am very honest many people would struggle to understand those choices. I have walked away from opportunities that many would say were chances of a lifetime but which, for me, had no meaning.
I have often reflected on my journey and why the pull of spiritual life is so strong for me. It’s not really something I have ever heard anyone else talk about or seen anyone else write about. I have had this pervasive sense of needing to be spiritual, of needing to make the spiritual journey my life’s work, which is why for a little more than the last ten years I have done any number of things to make ends meet financially so that I can pursue my spiritual vocation. Even when the particular focus of that vocation has shifted, the intensity of the journey has remained consistent. I have started to recognize over the last few years that when I am feeling especially conflicted but can’t identify why I feel that way the answer is most often that I am about to experience a spiritual epiphany of one kind of another.
I write this not to pat myself on the back, but to encourage any of you who feel drawn to a particular vocation in a single-pointed way to pursue that vocation. I believe that when something is that strong we actually need to follow it to be true to ourselves. I encourage you to do what you have to do to make ends meet, but follow your dream. People may not understand, they may criticize you, they may utter all sorts of nonsense, but don’t let that bother you. Just follow your dream. Everything else will work itself out.