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Often when we look back on our lives we see that the chain of seemingly disparate events have formed patterns. These are formed by our practices, our habits, our mistakes, our relationships, our dreams — no matter what the separate events are, the patterns reveal that we were on a path all along.
Being aware is one way the Spirit works in guiding us. Because we’re living fully engaged in our lives each day, it’s hard for us to notice this or that pattern. We’re too close.
This is why taking time for a retreat, a space to slow down and spend time in quiet to pray a bit and listen more, we begin noticing how God has been at work in us. Amidst the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations, the season of Advent gives each of us a good reason to step back and take some moments of quiet, allowing us to see, appreciate and give thanks for the unique work of God in our lives.
Mary’s “yes” to the angel when told she was favored and chosen to bear the Son of God, inspires us by its simple consent and its leap of faith into an uncertain future. She knew she couldn’t fully know or understand what she was getting herself into. But Mary placed her trust in God.
None of us when discerning our future path knows for sure that this or that is the right choice for us because there is no way to know the unknown. It really is all about our willingness to trust that God loves us. In our love and trust, when we have done our best to listen to what the Holy Spirit has in mind for our lives, we step onto the path, continuing to trust in God’s love.
In these days of Advent waiting we can allow ourselves a little extra time to be still, to welcome silence into our lives. Silence is God’s best way to communicate. Our listening and really hearing is best done in silence too.
May you be still enough to hear the still, small whispers of God,
To jump start your listening: http://www.adriandominicans.org/BecomeaSister/EnteringtheLife.aspx
With the start of Advent we begin a time of waiting for the coming of Jesus into our daily lives. In a strange way Advent reminds me of flower bulbs. These oddly-shaped forms are planted in the autumn here in the northern hemisphere, come up every spring and then blossom in beauty. Without waiting throughout the winter buried in the darkness under the soil, they wouldn’t be able to blossom. Darkness and waiting are essential to the fulfillment of their purpose.
When we discern what God’s call is for our lives we often do lots of waiting, praying, and listening without knowing just what the answer may be or when it will come to us. Much like the bulbs (were they able to feel) we wait without knowing, sometimes impatiently, until the time is right. We’re not in control, just as the conditions needed for bulbs to grow are not.
During Advent we’re invited to enter into the mystery, the waiting and the right time to receive the guidance we need.
Blessings on your Advent waiting,
At Thanksgiving time we make explicit our gratitude to God and all the people and parts of life and creation that we take for granted every other day of the year. One aspect for our attention is our ability to discern our next steps in life with the help of the Spirit.
This year as we celebrate Thanksgiving, let’s take time to notice and to count our insights and blessings that come to us as gifts of the discernment process. Whether they have a large or small impact, each of them moves us forward in our lives.
“If the only prayer we ever say is ‘thank you’, it is enough!” (Meister Eckhart)
Thank you joining us here each week,
Last weekend I attended the local Adrian Symphony for a most enjoyable performance of four extraordinary works of music. As all stellar musical renditions transport us into different realms where our imaginations and memories flow, so did this one. During more than one piece my thoughts went to the orchestra itself. A variety of instrumentalists assembled across the stage, each playing his or her part and contributing to the melodious sound of the whole orchestra.
Our life together here on this Earth is like this. Each one of us has gifts given abundantly by God not only for our own use, but as ways to contribute to one another and to the whole of us.
Discerning how best to use our gifts to make these valuable contributions is worth investing our time in prayer and reflection. Just as there could be many different ways the musicians in the orchestra could use their talents, they chose to play together. And together their music is more powerful than just one single instrument alone.
In a special way in religious life we promise to contribute our gifts and talents to the whole community, making them radically available for service, in all the ways we are invited to use them. The impact of our service is stronger together than any one of us could offer alone. As you reflect this week, consider whether God is calling you to offer your unique gifts in this way of life. A whole community of Sisters is waiting to support you!
For more about life as an Adrian Dominican Sister, click here.
While it probably takes a lifetime to realize the truth embedded in what Jesus told people as he walked on Earth, initially his words about following him can be daunting! Many times we get scared and want to walk away from him, giving a solid “No!” to his invitation to follow his ways.
Each person has a call from God to make of her/his life what God has in mind. Inside ourselves we feel a desire for more until we have found what’s right for our life. We try one thing or another, one direction or a different one, but recognize after awhile that this is not the right way. St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in [God].”
This alignment with God’s desires for us is what discerning is all about. Whether we spend our time alone in discernment or not, at some point we all benefit from a listening ear, a listening heart that gives us feedback on what we’re pondering for our lives. God wants only the best for us and draws us toward it. May we be open enough and willing to search for that precious path!
As we persist in seeking, we will find,
For more hints about discerning, check out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6hmujPi7mM
We are celebrating National Vocation Awareness Week, November 4-10, which was established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Our events this week will be in support of parish efforts to foster a culture of vocations for the consecrated life, priesthood, and the deaconate.
In his message for the 2018 World Day of Vocations, Pope Francis emphasized that it is at the loving initiative of God, and personal encounter with each of us, that a person is called. God knows our anxious longing for love and calls us to joy. In the diversity and the uniqueness of each and every vocation, personal and ecclesial, there is a need to listen, discern and live this word that calls to us.
Each day this week we will post one “myth” about religious life and have a “live” response from one of our Sisters, which will be posted on our social media. We’re calling the series “Myth-busters.”
Tune in by following us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube!
One of the keys to support ourselves during times of discernment is through prayer. That ability to be silent before God as a listener is as vital as picturing ourselves in the presence of a wise person. Ask a simple question at the start of prayer, “Loving One, what do you want me to do with my life?” Then, wait in silence to hear the response.
Asking a question similar to this one probably won’t be a one-time experience of asking and then hearing the response, because this (and others like it) is a profound question! It may take many times for us to hear, really tune in to how the response comes. In prayer and quiet time, we are preparing to receive something precious from the One who loves us.
Receptivity and openness, not attachment to a specific outcome, allows us to hear well. We may be surprised by how our response comes. It could be through an insight received during prayer, a seemingly accidental conversation with another person, going for a walk, fixing a meal, doing dishes, or taking a shower. The response may just show up and our heart will know “this is it.” If we don’t know the full answer to our question, we will know the next step to take.
Discerning is a journey, a pilgrimage, during which we discover clues along the paths we walk. We can feel joy and be assured that all the paths lead to the same end, connection with our God.
May you have patience and persistence walking this path,
The season of autumn in the north is traditionally a time marked by letting go. Leaves fall off trees, warmer temperatures depart in favor of cooler ones, and light diminishes as we move steadily toward December’s shortest day of the year. Change affects our human lives as well.
Some people get into the mood of clearing out cluttered closets, drawers, and storage areas at home. Wardrobes change from lighter clothing to warm sweaters, jackets, and long sleeves. In addition to these outward signs of change, there are internal signs of letting go too.
Discerning well is like the season of autumn because it involves letting go and leaving behind some choices. If you’ve made a list of life options available to you, you’ll find yourself crossing some of them off your list. If you’ve taken your top three choices where you feel called in your life and listed pros and cons for each of them, it may be easy to see which one(s) need to be let go next. This, of course, takes time. Then, there’s one more thing.
Unlike the season of autumn when trees let go of their leaves to make room for the new growth, it’s hard to imagine the trees feeling sad about their losses. For us humans, sometimes letting go of what we had thought we might be called to do and taking up another choice, risky or not, may leave us feeling sad. Like the tiny new buds that appear on trees even before the leaves fall, it helps to feel assured that we have discerned well. Now it’s time to try on our choice.
May you live in such confidence and trust,
When I was a first year family therapist, I had the good fortune of working with a gentleman who was intent on healing from some debilitating issues getting in his way of living a healthy life. He was faithful to his appointments and clearly did the emotional work he needed to do with his family between sessions. What happened to me after several months of working with him surprised me.
I consulted with a supervisor at the time and lamented to her that I didn’t know what else to do with this man. Everything I suggested, every question I asked him came to a dead end. I was stumped. She wisely commented, “Maybe he has finished his work with you.”
Stunned, I replied, “Oh, it never dawned on me that someone actually finished their therapy! I guess that’s it!” Later he confirmed he’d finished his work for now.
I bring this up because the same surprise could be in store for us when we’re discerning a life choice. When we’ve spent adequate amounts of time in prayer, weighed our options with friends, family members and wise mentors, the thing that’s left is to decide, to choose one direction, one life path and try living it. It’s the only way to know whether or not this path is a “fit”.
Just as in a vegetable garden there comes time for the harvest. To neglect picking the vegetables is to let them die or fall to the ground. No one wants to eat them then. Let’s be alert for our time to harvest.
Enjoy the harvest in its time,
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Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP
Sister Katherine Frazier, OP
Adrian Dominican Sisters
1257 East Siena Heights Drive
Adrian, Michigan 49221-1793
Visit the Adrian Vocations Team on Twitter @ASisterReflects
Get out your bell-bottoms and platform shoes, because DISCO is here!
Okay, so it's a little less dancing, a little more talking... Sisters Lorraine Réaume, OP, and Sara Fairbanks, OP, have a video series called DISCO (Discernment Conversations): Dancing with the questions of life!