Called and chosen: Vocation in Frozen II
Letter to the Editor | Thursday, February 13, 2020
I’m grateful for Professor Legarre’s recent letter to the editor and for the important conversation it begins on the question of vocation. I’d like to offer, though, in charity and out of my own discernment (and love of “Frozen II”), a response to the piece and what it might mean for God to call us.
The noun “vocation” (verb: vocare) does suggest a voice who calls, who utters words. In His Goodness, God does call, as the voice in “Frozen II” calls Elsa. God is the Word, and speaks throughout history, in the Scriptures and with a voice! What a gift it is to know and trust that voice, whether it comes in words, through friends, in desires or by doors opened and doors shut.
But, back to “Frozen II”. Legarre is mistaken when he says Elsa is the only character who hears that voice. The voice is for her, but she’s assured of its verity when the gecko (a brilliantly cute marketing ploy) hears it too. It is also important to acknowledge it is not her voice, but her mother’s, that calls. When, in “Into the Unknown” Elsa first begins to acknowledge the persistent song that has been “keeping her awake,” she’s reluctant to answer. When she accepts the invitation and follows the voice through trial (and error) she finds herself, finally, at its source.
This is where the song “Show Yourself” unexpectedly and beautifully captures vocation and what it is to call and to be called. “I can sense you there,” Elsa sings, “like a friend I’ve always known / I’m arriving / And it feels like I am home.”
Vocation is our homecoming. At long last, we have responded to the voice that knows our longings and hopes, our insecurities and fears. Finally, we have found the one for whom we were made: the Love for which we were created.
Elsa could not have planned her call, and neither can we. Whether it’s to the single life, marriage or consecrated life, to medicine, law or art, it is God who has chosen us: “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain” (John 15:16).
She continues: “I’ve never felt so certain / all my life I’ve been torn / but I’m here for a reason / could it be the reason I was born?” With vocation comes the exhilarating certainty of finding for what we were made. This is not a certainty we can create! I cannot will myself into a perfect relationship, community or job. Rather, I find the certainty of my call in knowing that it is Another Who has spoken to my heart from its creation.
I appreciate Legarre’s eagerness to clarify that God’s speech is often not written in the sky, though we might like it to be. But it is a mistake to propose that it is no call at all. God calls both in silence and in clear conversation with our hearts. He moves, when we are close to Him in prayer and sacrament, in our desires and in community with those who know and love us. The call does not come in a vacuum; it echoes through our whole lives and selves. Ultimately, we know it, difficult as it may be to articulate, when we hear it. And we do hear it because, well, He does speak.
When we are given that gift — when He speaks through and in our lives and loves — we can sing with Elsa: “You are the answer I’ve waited for / all of my life.”
Discernment is difficult. It asks for vulnerability. While “Frozen II” is not perfect, it does offer us a lens through which we might better see how we can respond to our own call. For Elsa, discernment asked for a willingness to risk her home and queenship to cross a literal ocean of uncertainty. If we place ourselves in that position, we can recognize, as Legarre does, that our attributes, preferences, circumstances and talents have all been calling us to our vocation. But I want to suggest that those things — though they are not words, per se — are God’s speech just as much as His call to Samuel, His invitation to the apostles or His cry of thirst to Mother Teresa is His speech. Even when the silence isn’t filled with the words we long to hear, we can still trust that God is calling. Assured by our prayer and in the peace of knowing that we have entrusted our will to Him, we can act, confident that in His Providence we will live out His call. Like Elsa, we can answer with all that we have and all that we are: “I am found.”
“The one who calls you is faithful,” Paul tells us in the first letter to the Thessalonians (5:24). Thank God for that.
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.