Almost every day I talk with someone about work. It is my work.
My years are full of twenty-somethings who have come to Washington DC in search of their lives, wanting to put their shoulders to history—and at some point find that that is harder than they imagined. But they are also full of folk who are older, people who have given themselves away to visions and dreams of all sorts—and at some point find a tension between what they hoped for and what has happened in the living of ordinary life.
As a way of addressing these longings we have been having Vocare evenings for many years, what we call “conversations about calling.” From mothering to international relations, from business to journalism, from story-telling to teaching, from health care to the law, across the spectrum of vocations, always a conversation about what we do with the days of our lives.
Last spring we had an evening for architects and builders. Around the table we had both, men and women who have spent the years of their lives creating the spaces in which we live and move and have our being. One who came was Luther Weber, and yesterday we spent several hours together, him allowing me to look over his shoulder and through his heart at the work that has been his.
After twenty years with a firm in the city, he has been doing his own work for ten years now, taking up invitations from people to come and see what they want, and then help them imagine shapes and sizes, forms and materials that bring their dreams into being. A remarkably thoughtful person who reads widely in philosophy and theology, he has given years to reading in the literature of his craft, writers like Christopher Alexander and his “A Pattern Language.”
Yesterday’s walk in and around Luther’s work was a gift to me, not only allowing me to know him more fully, but also to know the work of his hands, which is a work of his heart. As he said, to know me you need to know my work. So, from our table to his studio to the streets of the city, we had a conversation about calling, about his vocation as an architect– and the tensions that are his, days full as they are of people and places, working to make money and beauty work together in the service of God and his neighbor. Common grace for the common good, one more time.
Dr. Steven Garber is Founder and Principal of the Washington Institute and author of The Fabric of Faithfulness.