It is June, and I count my blessings.

Vines dripping in snap peas. Bowl after bowl of strawberries. Lettuces grown so large, I cradle one leafy head like a toddler in my arms. And carrots. I’ve never had much luck with carrots, but, this year, carrot tops are waving in the breeze like a dense fern forest.

And these are not my only blessings. Four wild, whooping noisemakers munch on raw peas and hunt for strawberries. Two boys can usually be found up a tree. One small girl runs after the kitties, grabs small green cherries from the low-hanging branches of the sour cherry tree, and never looks back at the big sister who follows, calling, “Elsa, come back. Elsa, are you ready to go inside?”

Yet even blessings can weigh you down and wear you out. Four small faces sticky with berry juice seem to ask more of me than I have to give.

***

found

***

We like to speak of callings. We acknowledge the dignity of difficult work when we say I am called to this.

And parents do the same. I am called to mother. I am called to father. But I have always imagined a calling to be like the revelation of something already there. God has called me to be a writer. God has called you to be a teacher. Or an encourager. Or a farmer. This is calling as the meeting place of God’s work and your talent.

Which is why I have never said I am called to be a mother. I am blessed, richly blessed, with four young children, but I have no particular talent for the work involved. On tired afternoons, I might even say my need for quiet, alone time makes me especially unsuited for the job.

***

Perhaps I have misunderstood the word. Perhaps a calling has nothing to do with talent or giftedness or any kind of suitability at all. Was a poet shepherd suited to battle giants? Was a young boy asleep in the temple especially gifted at hearing the voice of God?

It seems he wasn’t. Three times Samuel got up from his bed having confused the voice of heaven’s King with the voice of his master Eli.

And so I acknowledge all the ways I can never measure up to the blessings I’ve been given. But I will follow in Samuel’s incompetent but faithful footsteps. I will say, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

And I will tell of what I hear.

Because our God calls.

Maplehurst

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