If we fail in this journey we must repeat it until we succeed. Only by embracing the vocation God has called each of us to, will we truly know happiness in this world.

Ulysses and the Siren, Herbert James Draper, 1909, public domain

Do you remember the story of Odysseus? It used to be required reading in school. The Odyssey follows the pattern of the Hero’s Journey. But it is also the pattern for our lifelong spiritual journey.

The Spiritual Journey

Odysseus, the king of the island nation of Ithaca, is called to fight in the Trojan War. Although he resists slightly at first he eventually embraces the call.

Jesus is calling each of us. Each of us is given a unique set of gifts, talents and abilities to complete a specific purpose, a specific call, a specific vocation. Do we resist the Call?

We may spend much of our lives trying to discern our vocation. But like Odysseus we have helpers and mentors who not only assist us in discerning our calling, but stay with us on the journey helping us along the way. If we do not discern our calling, if we do not answer when God calls us, we will never truly be happy.

After the Trojan War Odysseus attempts to sail home. But his journey is filled delays, setbacks, trials and tests.

When we have discerned our calling the next phase of our journey is one of formation. We take the skills God had given us, and add to them the knowledge we need to fully realize the state God has called us to. We will meet dangers, suffer setbacks, and face giants and dragons of the mind, attempting to keep us from our goal. God may send us trials to test us and strengthen us, the devil may send obstacles to trip us up and divert us from our path.

Finally Odysseus returns home where he faces a final test. He must drive out the men who presumed he was dead and pressured his wife, the queen, into remarrying.

Just when we think we are ready to take up our vocation we face a final test. The Adversary may make a final assault on our will. Do we go forward, and take up our vocation, or do we slide back into our old ways and ignore our calling?

Odysseus is reunited with his wife and his son and rules once more as king of Ithaca. But he is changed by his adventures and returns a wiser king, able to rule and govern more effectively.

Answering the Call

When we have discerned our call, and then formed ourselves (or allowed God to form us), we are at last ready to take up the vocation God has called us to. We move from the realm of the spirit we have journeyed in, back to the physical world we started in. But we are changed and transformed.

We are now masters of two worlds, the physical and the spiritual, and we can move between them with ease. We bring back with us not just the knowledge of the place God has prepared for us, but the wisdom and experience to help others answer their own call and find their own place in the world.

If we fail in this journey we must repeat it until we succeed. Only by embracing the vocation God has called each of us to, will we truly know happiness in this world.

Like Odysseus each of us is on a journey back to our Father’s house and it is only there that we will know true, lasting, authentic happiness.

We are all on a journey. For thousands of years we have told stories as metaphors for that journey. Even the ancients, who lived before the time of Christ, had a sense of this transcendent truth and expressed it in their songs and poems.

There are certain truths we know instinctively because they are written on our hearts. We know these are transcendent truths because they reappear again and again in our art and literature.

Jesus constantly reminds us that our life here is only the path, not the destination. And that path offers many dangers and distractions to divert us from reaching our destination. Even finding our vocation is not the end, it is merely the vehicle God has prepared for us to travel in and help others along the way.

Our journey takes us through the darkness in search of the light. Saint Paul advises us to “throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” We are called to shine with love for God and for each other.

The Advent candle symbolizes this. It is a light that drives back the darkness. This is what each of us is called to be.

Pax Vobiscum
1stSunday in Advent

crossposted at www.DeaconLawrence.org

© Lawrence Klimecki

Lawrence Klimecki, MSA, is a deacon in the Diocese of Sacramento. He is a public speaker, writer, and artist, reflecting on the intersection of art and faith and the spiritual “hero’s journey” that is part of every person’s life. He can be reached at Lawrence@deaconlawrence.com. For more information on original art, print and commissions, Please visit www.DeaconLawrence.org