vocation: an inclination, as if in response to a summons, to a particular
state or course of action; a function or station in life to which one is
called by God.
Two of my friends got married (to each other) last October. They are both Californian immigrants to Texas, and I had not had the opportunity to meet most of their family members before. The reception was a well-attended, joyful, and, shall I say, not-quiet affair. I sat more or less invisibly in a reasonably comfortable out-of-the-way corner and made small talk with one of the bride’s connections who was sitting nearby for most of the evening.
Then the groom came over and took me to meet his sister. It was, for me, the most remarkable encounter of the event. Nancy shook my hand firmly, looked me straight in the eye, and asked me not what I do for a living, nor even whether I work outside the home, but “What is your vocation?”
That question revealed more about her than anything she told me about herself. It demonstrated an understanding that a job is just something you do, but vocation is the essence of who you are. It indicated an interest in my real self, not just my resume’. And most importantly, I think, it articulated a conviction (which I hold firmly myself) that everyone – not just those with degrees or titles or recognized names or even paychecks – does have a purpose on this earth, a calling, a vocation.