Following a Calling A Sketch of Faith by Michael Valliant
Faith is a full-contact sport. I fell off the stage and fractured my skull while attending Sunday School at Holy Trinity Church in Oxford when I was four years old. I was the only kid who was allowed to wear my Baltimore Colts football helmet to nursery school for the next week or two, so it turned out all right. Looking back, I realize it was a first and individual step to find out that a walk of faith is a high-stakes business, and to watch my footing. In order to follow a dream, you have to know what your dream is. Until that becomes clear, you don’t know if your path is taking you closer or farther away. Writer and theologian Frederick Buechner says that our vocation, our calling, is where “your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” That place for one person could be as a firefighter, farmer, teacher, business owner, or artist. Only you can speak to your deep gladness. For me, I find that place in spirituality, a spiraling path that has led me time and again back to the church. But it’s taken a long time for me to discern that calling.
Michael Valliant, sitting atop a mountain in Virginia. It was St. James School, an Episcopal boarding school outside Hagerstown, Maryland, that introduced me to running and writing, two activities and passions that have defined me for the past thirty years. It was commuting from Oxford to Chestertown, going to Washington College, when I decided I wanted to go on to get a Ph.D. to be a philosophy and religion professor. Graduate school debt and wanting to be a part of our Eastern Shore community got the better of me then. 61