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Current Update as of February 12, 2004

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The Call: Discovering Why you are here.

The Call

Book Commentary by Linda Brown

Following the death of my younger sister within the past year, I had pretty much sworn off books that deal with self-help or intuition, the very books I used to enjoy the most. Every one of them suddenly seemed to be about making your own life better: sending messages out into the universe to get what you need and want, manifesting into reality what are your deepest desires, letting synchronicity play an important role in your life. Every one of these books is about results, about changing your reality.

"Life is not like that," I reasoned, angrily. "People die. Disasters occur."

And then I picked up the book THE CALL. It is unlike the others I have read. What makes it so different is Oriah Mountain Dreamerís approach to the spiritual, to the idea of what it means to live fully the life which each of us is in. It isnít about using focused attention to get what you want or pretending to be at peace while waiting for a higher power to notice and reward you. The book is about accepting reality. It is about being. Yes, being, thatís all. No tricks, no effort, no rushing about to get things done. THE CALL is about not changing, but being who we really are, not through anything we do, but through non-doing. I think this is probably why THE CALL is such an important book to so many people.

In her own life, while trying to satisfy a longing deep within herself and find what living fully really means, Oriah Mountain Dreamer set out on a forty day vision quest during which time she would fast, meditate and pray. She was not new to doing this sort of thing, had in fact been doing it for years, although never before for so long a period. What happened was that barely into her quest, she became ill. In a dream she talked to the Grandmothers (wise old women who for years had been prominent in her dreams) and the Grandmothers told her to "go home."

When she did what they advised and finished the forty-day dream quest at home instead of in the wilderness, it changed her entire way of interpreting the "why" at the center of her life. She realized for the first time that the meaning of her life was about being where she was at any given moment, and that it didnít really matter where she might be. Fully living our life purpose is determined by the level of awareness we bring to our actions.

Lending credibility to this well written book is the fact that for years the author had ideas similar to the authors of the other books. She had believed that she had to do something in order to answer the call.

Oriah Mountain Dreamer gives the reader many illustrations from her own life. She explains how there are things that, no matter how good our intentions or no matter how much we try, we canít fix. She gave examples of the firefighters who worked so diligently because of 9/11, yet the lives still were lost, the buildings still collapsed.

This section particularly stuck a nerve with me, because again and again I have searched for answers to my sisterís death: why did she die at such a young age, how could she have prevented the aneurysm, how could I hurry through the pain and get my life back to normal, etc.

Oriah Mountain Dreamer states that sometimes we move away from the "now" because we donít like some part of the realities it holds. We want God on our own terms. But if we move away from our pain, we are moving away from the present moment.

To be the best we can be is to be present in the moment, to just be. If we do otherwise we are, as the author of the book so aptly puts it, "walking asleep." Yes, people do die and yes, disasters do occur. When these things happen, we experience the pain and loss. But life is impermanence. Both our inner and outer realities constantly change. The moment before this moment was different from this one, and the moment that is yet to come will be different from this one also. To be fully present is to accept this moment, whatever it brings, knowing that everything passes, everything changes. Answering the call means staying in this moment, whatever it holds, surrendering to it, and being with the flow. Feel whatever feelings you feel, fear whatever it is you fear. Then be in the next moment, with whatever it holds.

In a large way THE CALL is about grace. Grace is never earned; it is given. We donít find it; it finds us. So many times we think we have to get life right, live it perfectly. This is not true. Grace is a gift.

Each of us has a story about our life and each of our stories is different. We perceive this story to be who we are, but this is not the case. Many times we believe that we are what we do, the role we play in community and the world. We create this story of our identity and mistake it for who we are. We get caught up in being driven and end up angry with ourselves or ashamed because, after "doing" so hard, we have not fulfilled the longing within us, which we so desperately chased.

Oriah Mountain Dreamer says there is no way to predict what our own call will require of us, but that we will find out if we can learn to sit inside our stillness.

When she writes about non-doing, she doesnít mean doing nothing. Always, even in dreams, we are sensing and feeling. Non-doing means that when a movement comes, it comes from an awareness of the stillness that is what a person is at the deepest level.

This movement might take you away from a job or a hobby or it might cause you to approach them in an entirely new way.

In order to answer our call, there must be within us a marriage of ego and essence. I love her line," We are called to value the power of presence more than we value the presence of power."

She also talks about being "God-mad" which she defines as "being willing to find your way of making love to the world today."

According to Oriah Mountain Dreamer, each of us has our own call, and it is a word that we are here to live out. Being your word is less about what you do than who you are. Your word is how you are with yourself. In her case the word is "rest" because that is the hardest thing for her to learn, the thing she needs most to learn if she is to be in the moment. She gives examples of all the different areas of her life where she has trouble neither pulling from nor reaching for, but accepting what is and being with it. She speaks of the difficulty of not trying to force outcomes.

Your word will be different from her word and my word will be different from yours. But the world is always listening and how we are goes out into the world and affects others. The reason we are here is to offer who we are out into the world.

THE CALL is a very personal book and, because of my personal circumstances, touched me very much. In order to comment on it, it was necessary for me to go back and reread several times. What I discovered was that each time I returned to it, I found some new truth to apply to my own life, some new insight. This book was about real life with all its ups and downs, its happiness and sorrow. It is beautifully written, with lovely poetry interspersed throughout and a meditation at the end of every chapter.

For anyone who has ever experienced disappointment and loss (and isnít this all of us?), reading THE CALL can make a difference.

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