Editorial & Introduction to Issue #28:
Looking for a Calling
by Lauren de Boer
Winter, 1997-8, p. 3
It doesn't interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for,
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.
-- Oriah Mountain Dreamer, from "The Invitation"
"Most of us are looking for a calling, not a job," says Nora Watson,
"Most of us, like the assembly line worker, have jobs that are too small
for our spirit. Jobs are not big enough for people."
Nora is one of the American workers interviewed by Studs Terkel in his
classic book Working. Her statement speaks to the unease and dissatisfaction
many of us feel even when the headlines tell us jobs are on the increase
and the economy is rosy. One can sense the tenuous nature of such pronouncements
in a market economy-and the unease is justified. Those headlines have nothing
to say to the quality or meaning of the work we do.
For years, a quiet rebellion went on inside of me whenever I was asked
the common question in social interaction, "what do you do?" If I answered
with a job title, I was cast, identifiable as something. At any one time
I could have answered: farmhand, steel worker, teacher, encyclopedia salesman,
hospital administrator, sales manager -- all positions I held in support
of my favorite habit, writing. But none of them defined my identity, my
Jobs are too small for our spirit, says Nora. The larger dimension of the
human spirit is what the Great Work is about; and every generation has
its Great Work, says Thomas Berry. The Great Work for the human today-to
enter into a mutually enhancing relationship with the Earth-is different
because of the magnitude of what's required. We are not simply moving into
a new phase of human development, says Thomas. The very viability of the
human on the planet is in question.
So this issue of EarthLight is not about jobs. Nor do we
cover the upsurge of interest around spirituality in the workplace or the
so-called greening of the corporate conscience-each important topics. It
is about awakening to our unique role; about awakening out of imprisonment
in the consciousness of the industrial era, one which served its purpose
but is now obsolete.
Christopher Fry, in his poetic play, A Sleep of Prisoners, expresses
the heart work required. He does this through the character of a war prisoner
who rouses his fellow sleepwalking prisoners with the following speech.
The human heart can go to the lengths of God.
Dark and cold we may be, but this
Is no winter now. The frozen misery
Of centuries breaks, cracks, begins to move;
The thunder is the thunder of the floes,
The thaw, the flood, the upstart Spring.
Thank God our time is now when wrong
Comes up to face us everywhere,
Never to leave us till we take
The longest stride of soul [the human] ever took.
Affairs are now soul size.
Is exploration into God...
So many thousand years to wake,
But will you wake for pity's sake?
Increasing consciousness. An awakening of the human heart. Exploration
into God, the Great Mystery, into radical amazement at our world and at
who we really are as a species. This is the challenge, as Herman Greene
lays it out in a foundational statement of The Ecozoic Society (go
A native elder from "New Hampshire," Manitonquat, took up the challenge
long ago. For twelve years, he has worked healing anger and violence in
the most wounded of souls by bringing Earth and Spirit into prisons (go
to article). Robert Schutz presents us with a solution on how to unshackle
ourselves economically in order to truly enter into the joy of life and
work (page 14).
In a moving interview (page 10), Miriam MacGillis and Susan Kleihauer discuss
how food, work, the land, and the New Story all mesh to form a tangible,
practically "edible" example for living sustainably. Susan, in her valued
assistance with the issue, has greatly enriched its outcome. And finally,
Sharon Abercrombie graces us with the first in a series of profiles on
the Sisters of Earth and how their spirit-based activism is making a difference.
Blessings to all in your Great Work for the New Year from everyone at EarthLight.