Vacation and Vocation

Vacation
vacare ‘be unoccupied’
"freedom from obligations, leisure, release" (from some activity or occupation)

Vocation
vocare ‘to call.’
spiritual calling," from Old French vocacion "call, consecration; calling, profession"
a summons or strong inclination to a particular state or course of action

Since the establishment of Vocational Guidance in 1908 by the engineer Frank Parsons, the use of the term “vocation” has evolved, with emphasis shifting to an individual's development of talents and abilities in the choice and enjoyment of a career.

Vocare and Vacare
Both words have but a single vowel that distinguishes them in Latin. Vocare is a call, or a calling; a summons or strong inclination to particular occupation or course of action—which you may also hear as “vocation.” Vacare is to unoccupied, free from obligations from some activity or occupation—which you may also hear as “vacation.” Which is an etymological way of saying I will be taking a vacation from my vocation August 14-28. 

I hope you have places and times when you also feel free from some activity or occupation, whether it is after working and study hours or home chores and errands or childcare responsibilities. Sometimes for myself, obligations may slowly erode space for vacare—freedom from such obligations. For others, there may little means or opportunity to have a vacation; some wait until retirement. Having such space for vacare certainly is built into our biblical heritage: from creation—a day to rest, the fourth of ten commandments to keep the sabbath, and practices of Jesus to get away to a lonely place to pray. To stop work, rest, reconnect with God and others for spiritual nurture and guidance. Would that not make moments of vacare – to be unoccupied, part of vocare—our calling from God?

God be gracious to us in helping us to find both vocare (calling) and vacare (freedom from obligations) in our lives and to similarly help others to have this in their lives.

Robert Foltz-Morrison