Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Call

For about eight years now I've volunteered with a community non-profit organization that I feel truly connected to in its efforts to promote art and art education. With the current state of our national economy, along with the cost of maintaining an old, historic building and a downturn in the availability of eager, capable volunteers, the Board of Trustees (of which I am a member) voted to focus its efforts strictly on art education rather than on building maintenance and dwindling volunteer interest - in short, we did not renew a lease, successfully auctioned appropriate building equipment, in short, closed down the bricks and mortar of the organization.

The decision was not emotionally an easy decision but logically it was the right one. The Board has made great progress in the last few months inviting the community to present their ideas in order to carry on with the mission's emphasis of art education. Two groups stepped forward and the Board is pleased to be able to grant them small sums to begin to carry out their art enrichment programs, with positive hopes of offering continuing financial support from our small endowment and from generous art patrons who will continue to trust our judgment in selecting worthy groups for support. This makes me very happy and all of this is to say that now, for the past few months, with a reduced amount of time spent with that organization, I've been looking for a place to offer some of my now free volunteer time.

Not eager to advertise my volunteer loyalty for sale, I've been observing and inquiring about organizations, their activities, their membership and privately in prayer waiting for the call. Yes, that's right, the call. There's nothing more precious to the doing of God's will than those who are willing to listen for direction outside their own plans or manipulation. I don't mean that to sound as "do-gooder" and "smug" as it reads back to me now, but I don't know how to put it another way. I really felt that there was an activity out there somewhere that needed to be done by me and that it would present itself.......and you know, why am I not surprised, it did!

There I was innocently reading the evening paper when the description of a local organization running a summer camp clearly outlined its need for volunteers, along with the contact number. Now the camp had already started and when I had to leave a message on a voicemail line I figured they were probably overrun with volunteers signing up left and right, the camp was already in gear, and why would they need me anyway? (That's certainly positive isn't it? Where do we come up with this stuff about ourselves sometimes?) So, when the camp director phoned me back right away and almost drove to my house to pick me up, I deduced that the call was real and that I should give it a go.

The details of my few hours a week with kids practicing their reading, reading in a second language different from their own will not be forthcoming at this time. Suffice it to say, these kids do need me, and wouldn't you I need them too! So rewarding, so heartwarming, so important to them and so little for me to give back.

Are you waiting for a call? Pay attention! Have you ever answered one - were you sorry that you did? I'd love to hear about your call!


  1. Great post, and I'm so pleased those kids now have you, and you them.

    You're right of course, listening and discerning is vital.

    BTW, I know what you mean about sounding do-gooder and smug (you didn't by the way), it's very difficult to capture this sort of thing in writing. I struggle with this a lot.

  2. may i join the smug do-gooder club, too, please?

    i think it only sounds smug to those who have never considered something this way. i can't imagine barreling into an activity without receiving "the call" first. (that is where the "sorry" comes in 'cuz believe me i've tried it...i.e. doing something out of my own might, bluster and smugness rather than waiting & discerning).

    my new "calls" are peaking their toes into my life now. the hard thing comes when we have to let something else go...or make hard decisions like shutting down buildings...or change the way things people think they "should" look.

    great post! i know we would be delighted to hear more details about what those kids teach you!!!


  3. Tess and Lucy, Thank you for giving me such encouagement. I value your comments so much.

    New calls, new opportunities - some of them truly are where we are called and giving thought to that call and answering is an amazing process. It is a little ironic that answering the call usually shows up before the actual pact is made......the discernment process making it very easy to say yes!

    THank you again!


  4. Barbara,

    P.S. you mentioned the Rule of St. Benedict in your comment and I've been thinking about you this week in that regard as I just ordered the Joan Chittister book that you recommended to me on the Rule of St. Benedict. You'll no doubt hear me on this site weighing in to that text - I look forward to receiving it.

  5. and whoops Barb, looks like I wrote you about the JC book on the tail of the wrong reply comment from you - oh well.......