The increased darkness we experience around us at this time in the northern hemisphere is conducive to pondering some of our deeper questions about life. Questions come whether we’re anticipating a graduation, awaiting some other natural ending and therefore the beginning of something else or are gainfully employed.
In contrast to the darkness let’s consider light. Every plant needs a certain amount of it but not 24 hours every day. Plants also need darkness. When discerning – thinking about my life choices - the light I need could be in the form of researching my options. It could come from reading about what I'm thinking about doing or in talking with someone who has more knowledge of the path I'm considering and then listening to what they can teach or advise me to do. When I get to certain point I might write in order to shed light on what I'm thinking or feeling about each option. Light for discerners becomes insight and gifts of the Spirit, THE guide to wise choices.
If in these days of much physical darkness you find yourself longing for more light (insight) for your future life path, try the activities above. They can bring new wisdom into the struggle with where to go and what to do. Be open when entering into the light of the discernment process and allow the Spirit to work freely with you and your spirit. In the end may you be open to outcome, not attached to an outcome.
If Sister Mariane or I can assist you in this discernment, feel free to contact us. Why not join us for a weekend of discernment March 1-3 to “Come and See for Yourself” where God may be calling you.
May you be persistent in your search,
P.S. Discerning takes time!
Parents raise their children to be independent and capable. I’m not sure it necessarily follows that we have to do everything on our own just because we’re capable of being that “independent person”.
I once had an experience walking on a leaf-covered pathway through the woods after a downpour of rain. The size and diversity of the many trees with their trunks darkened by splashes of the rain caught my eye. Upon leaving the woods I had an insight: each of those trees not only “got along” with the others, but each was dependent on the others for their survival. Although they obtained their own nourishment through their roots and leaves, somehow they were not standing alone in a big field or meadow. They weren’t having to fend for themselves, but were part of this diverse collection of trees and they all were thriving!
We humans are also part of a diverse collection of creatures, depending on one another for support, caring, listening, playing and working together. At times we need a listening heart or wise advice to get clear about what we think and feel about our lives. It helps to know we matter to others. These others can be parents, good friends, roommates, co-workers, pastors, and spiritual directors we can count on when we’re searching out a life choice.
Check out this upcoming event for a chance to be with others who care that you find the right choice for your life’s purpose.
I can still remember my mother saying, “Don’t touch that burner. It’s hot.” As a seven-year old did I believe her? No, I didn’t. I wanted to see for myself what she meant by “hot” and was it really all that hot? I found out all right and burned my index finger in the process.
When we’re trying to figure out where we’re being called in life, we sometimes approach the search like a hot burner. Thinking it will be simple we ask ourselves, “So what am I supposed to do with my life?” Then, not getting a clear or immediate answer we quickly back away from the question. We discover it’s not as easy as we thought it would be and might take more effort from us than we had planned.
While not trying to minimize the importance of questions and searching, patience is a good quality to call on in these moments. Besides patience, taking time for quiet or long walks, praying or journaling helps. Talking with a good friend or spiritual director who can help us listen for and see patterns in our questions and thoughts can be our guides to finding the path that matches our heart’s desire, our skills, our opportunities... and God’s call.
It is worth staying with the “work” of it,
For more encouragement, check this out.
Have you ever noticed that pine cones hold hidden seeds? Each cone, each seed is full of promise for the future, no matter how large or small they are.
The same is also true for each of us. Our lives hold seeds full of promise. They can be hidden so deeply within our longings that we can’t see or recognize them at first. But they are within us.
As we complete this Advent time of waiting, I’d like to invite you to consider attending our March 1-3, 2019, weekend here in Adrian to discern what those hidden desires of your heart are. These are the ones planted by the Spirit and awaiting time for you to ponder them. The gathering will provide time to listen – to yourself and others, to pray and to examine those seeds of God’s calling that want to grow in our lives. What a lovely gift to offer yourself the time to really pay attention. Click here for a detailed description of the upcoming event.
May we celebrate the joyous gift of Jesus’ birth every day,
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
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
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,
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Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP
Sister Mariane Fahlman, 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!