One of my favorite films is Kiki’s Delivery Service by Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. It’s been in regular rotation since my daughters were young. The animated film follows the story of a young witch (Kiki) who, according to witch tradition, must leave her family for a year when she turns 13 and prove that she can make it on her own in a town that doesn’t have another witch. She moves to a small city, finds a room above a small bakery, and becomes a delivery girl for a bakery, flying breads and other parcels around town on her broomstick. Along the way, she makes friends, overcomes obstacles, and, in the movie’s climax, uses her powers in a daring rescue. A great movie.
Throughout the film, Kiki meets older girls and women who could serve as visions of her future self. A slightly older witch girl returning from her year on her own, a single woman living by herself and dedicating her life to art, a young mother running a bakery, an elderly grandmother…these and other women enter Kiki’s life at various points, offering potential previews of the directions that her life could take. Some of them are role models and mentors, while others simply present a particular way of life that Kiki may or may not want to pursue. As the movie proceeds, she also meets younger girls, who look up to Kiki herself as a potential role model and cause Kiki to see herself in a different light.
We need to see ourselves in a continuum of younger and older friends and acquaintances, in order to understand our place in life and in others’ lives. Kiki encounters these women and girls from different generations as she goes about her everyday work in the film’s fictional city. Do we have the same opportunity to meet people from generations before and after us? Continue reading Our Need for Other Generations
A few weeks ago, I listening to a sermon by my friend Kenny Benge, pastor of St. Johns Anglican Church in Franklin, Tennessee. Towards the end, Kenny spoke on the subject of our purpose in life and read the following quote from the English Puritan William Perkins:
Concerning children: it is the duty of parents to make choice of fit callings for them, before they apply them to any particular condition of life. And that they may judge rightly what callings their children are fit for, they must observe two things in them: first, their inclination; secondly, their natural gifts—And here all parents must be warned that the neglect of this duty is a great and common sin—
— William Perkins, A Treatise of the Vocations (PDF)
When we think about callings, we tend to focus on our own calling, the process of discovering it and then fulfilling it. Perhaps we are part of a particularly self-absorbed generation, or perhaps this is simply human nature to think of ourselves first and others second. Rarely do we think about calling in terms of helping someone else find their calling.
Leading up to Mother’s Day, I’ve seen several articles that deal with the topic of mothering as a calling, either as a calling in itself, as part of a woman’s larger set of callings, or as a circumstance of life apart of any notion of “calling.” Never having been a mother, I won’t address that vocation. As a parent, however, this statement from Perkins caught me up short: Am I helping my children find their callings? How could I even begin to do that? Continue reading Helping Your Children Find Their Callings
A few weeks ago, my family and I attended Peter Pan at Cincinnati’s School for the Creative and Performing Arts. It was far better than any high school/middle school production had any right to be, but then, this is a school that kids have to audition for in order to attend. The school focuses on the full range of the arts, so that not only were the on-stage roles filled by students, but also the backstage roles: stage managers, set decorators, costume designers, the whole gamut.
The program listed by name – and role – hundreds of students and teachers who made the show possible. It read like the credits of a Hollywood film; not the smallest contribution was overlooked. As I read through the program I noticed an ad an upcoming fundraising event, which included a credit for the name of the student who had designed the ad. It struck me that giving credit was part of the school’s ethos.
A Sign of Community Health
Over the years, I’ve noticed that many of my favorite websites and online resources include a colophon or acknowledgements page to recognize the people and tools that helped create the project. This could be a coincidence, but I don’t think it is. Instead, it reflects the generous spirit of the people behind these sites, as well as their gratitude. When a vocational community is healthy, it seeks to share credit generously. Continue reading Giving and Receiving Credit