By Bill Dodds
I’m pretty sure the teacher was a little concerned when I told her students I didn’t like to read when I was a kid.
I had nothing against it, but I wasn’t going to “waste” any of my summer vacation with my nose in a book. I wanted to be outside playing or plunked down in front of the TV. Mom, bless her heart, would take all five of us to the library on a regular basis. I suppose I came home with a book or two, but I doubt I ever opened any of them.
I would read for school. I had to do that, but not during vacation. I didn’t have to do that. It certainly never bothered me that my brother and sisters received certificates proclaiming “I read 10 books this summer” or some such. Good for them. It wasn’t for me – and Mom and Dad never pushed it – though both were big readers.
I discovered the love of books when I entered the seminary at the tender age of 14 and there was little or no TV time and a lot of time set aside for quiet. That meant no playing outside.
I had to do something. I looked at a book and then another, and then another. By the time I left at the age of 19, I was a reader who wanted to be a writer.
That’s why, down the road, I would stand up in front of a grade-school classroom and talk about books I had written for children and my silly poems for kids that were in anthologies, and a little bit about columns and articles and editing and the life of a freelance writer.
But still, I always wanted to give the little gal or guy who had no interest in reading outside assignments a bit of hope. It was OK. You’ll be fine. It may well be that you haven’t found your particular interest.
Discovering the Calling
At some point, we’re “called” to do something that mildly interests us, a hidden talent. Discovering what that is can, in many, many ways, amaze your parents, stun your siblings and amuse your friends. Who could have imagined it, they ask? She became a teacher, or he’s a cop now. It can seem God really does have a sense of humor.
So, what’s the lesson here for us moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas?
We may think we know what young family members will end up doing with their lives. We may hope and pray they do something we want them to do, but between their free will and the Holy Spirit giving them nudges, it’s not up to us.
What we can do is give them a childhood, an adolescence and (sometimes) an early adulthood that offers them the experiences, opportunities, education and self-confidence to answer that very personal call, that very wonderful call.
It can be a call to the priesthood or religious life, to marriage or to being single. And within that, to the work, the career, the ministry that fits them so well – one that was custom-made, by God himself.
Bill Dodds is a syndicated columnist for Catholic News Services. He and his late wife, Monica, were the founders of the Friends of St. John the Caregiver (www.FSJC.org).