The service was good at the restaurant. So Bill did what he often does when he eats out: he took the time to write a simple note on the back of the check, thanking the waitress for her good service. When asked about this practice, he simply says, “it is part of my call right now. It is what I can do.”
Nell pays attention when she is at the grocery store. Not just for what is on sale, but for acts of kindness and people who may need a hand. Sometimes it leads to conversation, which is part of her call—to encourage relationship and community, as well as to find hints and traces of God in daily life. Even and especially at the grocery store.
Frank gathers with his wife every day at 5pm. They read something out of a devotional, but mostly practice silence together. Both Frank and Ruth have been highly active people throughout their life. They are slowing down now, and this silence together represents a part of their call.
Nell, Frank and Bill are a part of the Lumunos Elder Council. At one time they served a more active role in the organization, working hard on the Board of Directors. They set strategy, raised money, and led programs. That kind of involvement isn’t right for this stage of their life. But offering their encouragement, support and wisdom on a monthly phone call is. Lumunos is a better organization because of our relationship with these Elders.
The Elder Council also helps us understand the fullness and diversity of call. Call is not only about BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) and grand visions. Call is about how we act at the restaurant and grocery store. Call is not only about words, but also about the willingness to keep silent. Call is about paying attention to the small things that happen in our daily life.
Small acts done out of a sense of call often lead to big things. For the waitress who has had a long day, picking up a note of appreciation from Bill would make a big difference. It could turn around a whole day, and that is no small thing. I imagine this was one reason why Jesus used small images and metaphors—a mustard seed, or lost coin—to speak about his big priorities.
Small acts of call are not just for elders. Words of encouragement in a restaurant, paying attention in a grocery store, and keeping silence could be small call for us as well. What represents small call for you?
PS: If you know an elder that is interesting exploring their call, check out our new workbook: Looking Back and Giving Forward: Finding Common Ground for Positive Aging.
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Painting is "The Waitress" by Edouard Manet