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  • Writer's pictureTom Emanuel

CALLED TO BE... This Week at UCC Watertown

“When you get your ‘Who am I?’ question right, your ‘What should I do?’ questions tend to take care of themselves.” --Father Richard Rohr

This past weekend, at the United Church of Christ of Vermillion, SD, I was formally ordained to ministry in the UCC. A vanload of our Watertown folks drove down for the service and got to see me dissolve into messy tears as my “cloud of witnesses” gathered round me to affirm my call and empower me to do the amazing, frustrating, ridiculous, magical work of ministry.

We talk about “calling” and “vocation” (which is just the Latin word for the same thing) a lot in my line of work. I believe that every one of us has a calling—at least one!—in this world. Our Great Calling is to “become ourselves,” to paraphrase the poet May Sarton. Once we are able to do that, our practical vocation will become self-evident, as Father Richard suggests in this week’s quote.

In that spirit, I offer the following poem, which I wrote Summer 2017 at the Mulberry Bend Overlook on the Missouri River, just south of Vermillion (pictured above). May we be as the River is: nothing more (or less) than itself, rolling ever, ever on toward the Ocean that is both our source and our goal.

Blessin’s, --Tom


The old maps show that this generous farmland

with its windbreaks of cottonwood

and oak was once upon a time

the Riverbed, before it shifted

two miles to the south and west.

For creatures as small and mutable

as humans (like me) to consider

that the River might not be next year

where it was this year

is a parable of Buddhist impermanence--

yet the change is not as drastic as it

seems. Even a deviation of several miles

is mostly cosmetic: a River will

overtop her banks and carve out

new channels, when conditions

and the seasons call for it, but she

will not alter, in any fundamental way,

her course to the Sea. She will

just keep rolling on

into What Must Be, with all

the graciousness, the self-assurance

of one who knows what she was born

to do and does it--and in her wake,

these visions of plenty and green.

That's how it is with those who pursue

truly their calling: the rest of us

finally have the proof we needed,

and bloom ourselves for joy

that we have seen, at last, a life

lived as it was meant to be.

QUESTIONS FOR THE WEEK: What is your calling? How can spiritual community support you living into your vocation?

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