Early in my first year of teaching I found it necessary to have a short catechetical on vocation. Some of my students were taking it upon themselves to correct the younger students of the school. They were usurping authority. We were reading “Charlotte's Web,” by E. B. White, at the time. It provided me an opportunity to revisit the topic.
Wilbur, the pig as you might recall, had boasted that he could spin a web. After several attempts and even Templeton’s assistance, he finally had to concede that he was not constructed to spin webs like Charlotte. He didn't have her equipment, and a rope tied to his tail was a poor substitute for spider's silk. “Do you remember when we spoke of vocation?” The children needed a memory jog.
"Can women become daddies?" They rolled their eyes and laughed out loud.
"Can men become mommies?" They laughed even harder.
One of the "cooler" Second Graders replied, "Deaconess! What are you thinking of! You make us laugh!"
"OK. So you tell me what I might be thinking of with these questions. Why is it Wilbur couldn't spin a web like Charlotte?"
The answers were all good: No spinnerets. No web. He wasn't a spider. He was a pig. He was too big. Yet, the answers didn't get to the core. "Why didn't Wilbur have spinnerets?" They were lost in thought.
"Why was he a pig?"
"Because he was born one?" ventured one brave girl.
"How is it he happened to be born a pig and not a spider? Who made sure Wilbur would be a pig?" I was pushing further.
Finally they were getting the drift. Three exploded with "GOD!"
"So if God made sure Wilbur was a pig and not a spider, then did Wilbur have any choice in whether he was a pig or a spider?"
"Of course not!"
"And if it's not a choice, but that God did it, then what is it to be a pig and not a spider or a spider and not a pig?"
Two minds clicked at once. "It's a gift!"
"Right. Did you have a choice in being a boy and not a girl or a girl and not a boy?"
"But who made you and all creatures? Who gave you your body and soul, eyes, ears and all of your members?"
"GOD!" "So who you are and what you are is a...."
"Right. Being boy or girl is a gift. Being boy or girl is also a vocation, because it involves what you can or cannot do - like be a daddy or a mommy. So, vocation is a gift. Wilbur's vocation was to be a pig, not a spider. He was to make good bacon. (The kids giggled.) Charlotte's vocation was to be a spider. She was to make webs, give people the creepy-crawlies, and eat flies. Boys grow up to be husbands and daddies. Girls grow up to be wives and mommies. Being a boy or a girl is a gift. Vocation is a gift."
I let the kids absorb this for a moment or two, then asked, "What to you do with a special gift? Do you exchange it?"
They looked at me like I was nuts. "No! You keep it."
"Well, nowadays there are some men who say they can be mommies. And there are some women who say they can be daddies."
The room was filled with the children denouncing such things. It just couldn't be possible. No way. God made men to be daddies, and women to be mommies. That's the way they are built. Anyone could see that.
All but one student knew that it was ridiculous to even think such thoughts. She looked around and rolled her eyes. "That's how it is where my mom works. Some women come in and exchange their gift so they can be men. Then men exchange their gift so they can be women."
"So what do you think about that," I asked.
"I think it's pretty dumb!" The rest of the class gasped. In this school "dumb" is a verbotten word.
"What do the rest of you think about it?" I questioned the class.
"That's God's gift!"
“You can't exchange God's gift. That's His gift to just you."
"God made you the way He wants you to be."
"God needs daddies AND mommies, not daddies and daddies."
"If Wilbur and Charlotte can figure it out, why can't people?"
To the last reply I responded, "If you all can figure it out, I wish the adults would listen to you!"
One final reminder I couldn't resist. Wilbur wound up in the manure pile after his failed attempts with another's vocation. That was OK for Wilbur, because the manure pile was his home. Not so for the rest of us. In this there is a lesson: Take a foreign vocation and you'll land in manure.
Apostles' Creed, First Article: I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
What does this mean?
I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my limbs, my reason, and all my senses, and still preserves them; in addition thereto, clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and homestead, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods; that He provides me richly and daily with all that I need to support this body and life, protects me from all danger, and guards me and preserves me from all evil; and all this out of pure, fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me; for all which I owe it to Him to thank, praise, serve, and obey Him. This is most certainly true.