How are you answering the call?

Years ago I was called to attend a Writing Conference in San Francisco focused on “change.”  Writers, Agents, Publishers, Facilitators and readers converged at Grace Cathedral to explore the theme of “Writing for Change.”

While in attendance I showed one of the publishers the deck of cards, which are the subject of this blog – Question Everything, a deck of inquiry.

She quickly flipped through the cards – word side only, not once pausing to turn the cards over to see any of the images.  I stood still beside her, waiting for her response, excited that we had already self-published 250 decks, which had sold out, and were wondering about how the cards might now find their way into a larger audience’s hands through a publisher.

As abruptly as she had flipped through the cards she thrust them at me, and I will never forget what came out of her mouth.

“These questions can never be answered.  What’s the point?” she said curtly, dismissing me with her gaze, and looking back at her desk.

Stunned to an awkward silence I stood without words.  I managed an uncomfortable smile as I slowly turned and walked away.  At the time I had no verbal response, nothing came forth from my lips, and I met up with a friend for lunch and shared my experience.

My lunch friend, a published writer, laughed and said something to the effect that rejection was part of the process.  Although i didn’t argue at the time,”rejection” was not what i was feeling, I couldn’t really articulate what it was until later.

At the time I might have been able to tell her of the physical sensations I felt as my heart dropped into my belly, where –  thankfully,  there was an open space for it to rest, while I tended the absence of kindness in the exchange, and the feeling of how little value the woman had given the moment of our meeting.  I didn’t expect to get an offer on the first exposure of the cards, but certainly not to experience such a brisk exchange.

Later, in a discussion with Deena Metzger, (who inspired this blog) she immediately responded when I shared the experience, and offered that the woman was speaking on behalf of so many people who clearly do not wish to acknowledge the unanswerable questions, of not just the young ones, but of the greater inquiry into being human. How ever will change occur, if we do not ask these unanswerable questions?

I didn’t have the words at the time, however when Deena spoke these, they resonated within me.  And probably in resonance with that which “called” me on that day, as my heart rose back into my chest, to wrap the cards in a soft silk scarf and place them back in my bag with care, return home from the conference and begin the process of self-publishing the cards again, with packaging, and printing locally to offer them into the world’s hands in the kind and “slow food” way of their creation.

These “calls” we all have come in every possible and ordinary way.  Some are whispers, some shout loudly, some are deeply felt, auditory or envisioned.  Some will not find resonance with others, while some will find a host of bandits willing to share the journey of a call and serve the fledgling into creation with you.

David Spangler in his book The Call, says:

“a call is more like an ongoing dialogue.  It is a relationship that grows and changes and matures throughout a lifetime.  It can be resonant at times, and silent and subtle at other times.”

Sometimes “the call” seems to be on hold, or has lost our number or is calling someone else.

I remember one time, in what I judged as a dry period of “the call” when I was riding the ferry to the city one morning. Inside a wave of deep inner reflection, integrating a long period of answering too many calls without discernment, over extended, and finding myself in a time of “ashes” as Robert Bly would say, I overheard a basketball coach talking to a team of young girls behind me.  “I want you to want the ball! I want you to want the ball!”  he kept repeating.  As I sat listening it occurred to me that I didn’t want the ball at this time.  It was relieving to acknowledge this. What I needed was to rest on the sidelines and witness others catching the ball.

Something settled for me and I began to land on the bench of the life that was – well – “calling” me at that time.  Because it did not have the velocity and exuberance of the earlier call in the beginning I felt I wasn’t being called at all.  Come to find out I was catching a call/ball of another kind.

I love the images on this card.  In reflecting on them today I see the generative fire of the call in many who have answered, and shared a call – perhaps, as David Spangler calls the most primal call of all –  to love.

He goes on to say “the call actually comes from the person standing in front of you, who in their heart of hearts is saying, “Will you be kind to me? Will you value me? I am valuable, after all.  Will you honor me?  Will you see the sacred in me, the sovereignty in me?”

Blessings as the call finds you in ordinary time and ways, and we’d love to know,

How are you answering the call?

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