by Adam Burns
As someone who considers himself an artist and creative-type, something that's important to me is craftmanship. Whenever I create, whether in writing or music or in my self-taught dabbles into graphic design; there's an energy I get, a buzz, that comes from it. There's also a certain level of pride attached - whatever I create represents me, it's an extension of me, so it has to meet a certain standard. The whole process of creating comes under an intense spotlight of careful crafting. I'm constantly seeking and teaching myself new methods or styles that will help me externalise what I picture in my mind. It was a similiar thing when I played basketball. Having played the sport most of my life, and being a fan of it all of my life, there was a level of competitiveness and fascination that fell just short of perfectionism and obsession.
When we're younger we're taught every person is gifted differently, that we all have something we're naturally good at. Between my brother and I, he was the sporty one and I was the one into books. When I was a kid I don't think anyone picked me as a creative-type, my gifts flew under the radar. Yet, I did enjoy reading, and as I read I paid attention to the way author's phrased things, to their vocabulary, even how they punctuated. I took notice of the flow of their writing. Soon, I began writing: short stories, recounts, fake news articles, even comedy! I began to dabble into poetry, which lead into writing song lyrics, which brought me into contact with the world of music. My ears became carefully attentive to how musicians crafted their songs, how their music rise and fell, how their lyrics told a story, how the two twisted together. What I was reading and what I was listening to didn't just come from nowhere, they were carefully crafted works, each element intentionally placed so that the outcome mimicked an idea within the artist's mind.
If you google synonyms for "vocation" one of the words that will come up is craft. Often vocation is painted as a divine responsibility that's dumped on us and that we then have to somehow come to grips with. This is especially true in the way we illustrate the celibate priesthood, or exclusive marriage. More and more as society develops, the choosing of a State of Life seems like receiving an extreme burden. Yet within the definition of vocation is this idea of craftmanship, this idea that one develops a calling, growing in confidence in using one's gifts, journeying towards mastery of that state.
The process of discernment and preparation (or formation) highlights that there's a period of growing in knowledge and understanding of our calling. Even within the States of Life there are milestones or accomplishments which imply an individuals growth within that state. The challenge for each of us wherever we sit on the spectrum of vocation, is to continually work at our craft. Whether that means growing in understanding through further training or study, or experimenting with gifts; there are ways in which we can further grow into our vocation.
The craft of living our vocation is important - crucial even - since our vocation necessarily touches and impacts on the lives of others. This isn't to say that living our vocation will be clean or smooth. Rather, the more we work at our vocation as a craft, the more it will be a reflection of God's action in the world, inspiring the lives of others and drawing them to the truth of the Gospel.