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Thursday, November 11, 2010
Stalking Your One Necessity
Dillard speaks of “stalking your calling.” In her essay Living Like Weasels, she notes the animal’s alertness, single mindedness and tenacity. She recalled the story of a man who once shot an eagle. When the man examined the eagle, he found the dry skull of a weasel fixed by the jaws to the throat of the eagle. Evidently this eagle lived for awhile still with the dead weasel fixed to her throat.
About this story, Dillard writes:
I think it would be well, and proper, and obedient, and pure, to grasp your one necessity and not let it go, to dangle from it limp wherever it takes you…..The thing is to stalk your calling in a certain skilled and supple way, to locate the most tender and live spot and plug into that pulse.
Teaching a Stone to Talk, p.69
Whether talking about our work, relationships or volunteer efforts, we too must be willing to stalk our calling. Like the weasel we can be alert, focused and attentive to our lives. When we sense something that is a “one necessity”, we must go for it, and latch on tight when we find it.
In a related but different way, Parker Palmer makes connections between wild animals and the spiritual world. He writes,
Like the wild animal, the soul is tough, resilient, resourceful, savvy, and self-sufficient: it knows how to survive in hard places….If we want to see a wild animal, we know that the last thing we should do is go crashing through the woods yelling for it to come out. But if we will walk quietly into the woods, sit patiently at the base of a tree, breathe with the earth, and fade into our surroundings, the wild creature we seek might put in a n appearance.
A Hidden Wholeness, p. 58
While Palmer here is speaking of the soul, it applies to listening for call as well. What is common in both stories is the necessity for alertness and quiet attentiveness to our lives. Sometimes that will lead to a leaping and latching on to some opportunity, invitation or “one necessity.” Other times it will mean sitting quietly and waiting for the call to come to us.
Life is about trying to figure out how to best spend our time and energy, and for whom. Sometimes we stalk, other times wait. Blessed is the one who knows the timing of their time.
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