The term “call” is often used in the church, and even sometimes outside of church, as a suggestion that God is talking directly to us, informing an action or direction in life. People are called to service of all kinds – service to God, to the poor, to country. While I’ve always been taught to walk carefully away from anyone who actually claims out loud to hear the voice of God, I can only believe that God’s “voice” takes many different forms, and it’s good to be always listening.
George Herbert seems to have another kind of “call” in mind though in his poem from 1633. The Call, one of the poems in his collection The Temple, seems to be a calling out to God, rather than a listening for God’s instructions. These are words of invitation, not command. Please come my way, my truth, my life, my light, my feast, my strength, my joy, my love, my heart. Like any good conversation, perhaps “call” involves listening and talking.
Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
Such a Way, as gives us breath:
Such a Truth, as ends all strife:
Such a Life, as killeth death.
Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
Such a Light, as shows a feast:
Such a Feast, as mends in length:
Such a Strength, as makes his guest.
Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
Such a Joy, as none can move:
Such a Love, as none can part:
Such a Heart, as joyes in love.
Could a poem be any more simple and direct? Made almost exclusively of single syllable words, it has a clear structure that repeats the three introductory words of each stanza, in case there is any confusion about what God really represents in our lives.
Truth. (A Eucharistic) Feast. Love.
As much as listening for a call, we might also issue an invitation for these things to come more deeply into our lives. And the greatest of these is love. (I Cor. 13:13). Is that our call?