She didn’t have any broken legs or arms, no visible cuts or bruises, but she was clearly in pain. For this young woman it was emotional pain. To anyone who responded to her, this twenty-something young adult poured out her heart and her life story. What she had come to realize was that she longed to belong somewhere and yet could not find out what that place was, her place in the world and her life’s purpose.
Sometimes that deep longing within our hearts does cause us suffering. God’s call to each of us – and we each do have a personal call from God for our lives – can be disturbing until we meet the call with a response that quells the pain of not knowing. The generosity of heart embedded in each of us from birth and strengthened in Baptism longs for a call that matches the abundance of our gifts.
Discernment time allows us to take stock of our personal gifts that the Spirit always gives for use in the community in which we share life. I’ve mentioned before the value of talking with a wise mentor or spiritual director who, in listening to us, can hear what we may not be saying in words but are conveying with the intensity of our feelings. You think you don’t have access to any wise person? You can always ask someone else who they talk to when they need wise advice.
To paraphrase the wise spiritual writer Frederick Buechner who wrote: when our longing meets the deep needs of our world we have gladly found our calling. May you be blessed in the search for your place.
El Dolor de Buscar
No tenía piernas ni brazos rotos, ni cortes ni contusiones visibles, pero estaba claramente en dolor. Para esta joven era dolor emocional. Para cualquiera que le respondiera, esta joven adulta de veintitantos derramó su corazón y la historia de su vida. Lo que se dió cuenta era de que deseaba pertenecer a algún lugar y, sin embargo, no podía descubrir cuál era ese lugar, su lugar en el mundo y el propósito de su vida.
Algunas veces ese profundo anhelo dentro de nuestros corazones nos causa sufrimiento. El llamado de Dios a cada una de nosotras - y cada una de nosotras tenemos un llamado personal de Dios para nuestras vidas - puede ser inquietante hasta que recibamos el llamado con una respuesta que alivie el dolor de no saber. La generosidad del corazón encajado en cada una de nosotras desde el nacimiento y fortalecida en el bautismo anhela un llamado que iguale con la abundancia de nuestros dones.
El tiempo de discernimiento nos permite analizr nuestros dones personales que el Espíritu siempre nos da para usar en la comunidad en la que compartimos la vida. En el pasado he mencionado el valor de hablar con una mentora sabia o una directora espiritual que, al escucharnos, puede oir lo que no estamos diciendo en palabras, pero transmitimos con la intensidad de nuestros sentimientos. ¿Cree que no tiene acceso a alguna persona sabia? Siempre puede preguntarle a otra persona con quién ellos hablan cuando necesitan consejos sabios.
Parafraseando al sabio escritor espiritual Frederick Buechner que escribió: cuando nuestro anhelo satisface las profundas necesidades de nuestro mundo, con gusto hemos encontrado nuestro llamado. Que sea bendecida en la búsqueda de su lugar.
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.
I was leading a group in some prayer exercises and I was really touched by an experience one of the women had. In the first part, she shared that she was really struggling with impatience. It was something really heavy for her and she felt terrible about how impatient she was with those around her, especially her family.
The next prayer led people to ask God how God is calling them to new life now. She expected to be told by God that she was called to be less impatient. Instead, she received a clear message: she was called to the joy of patience.
How like our God of life! Instead of focusing on what was wrong, God invited this woman to embrace the opposite grace. God did not condemn her for her faults, but rather welcomed her to new life and joy. Tears were running down her face as she shared this response.
Take a look at whatever negative aspect of yourself you are struggling with. Now try and identify the opposite gift or virtue. Instead of fighting so hard to change something bad, put your energy into embracing something good.
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” John 15:11
A close friend of mine was out with her beloved Grandmother. They were waiting for the light to change before crossing a busy street. Grandmother says to her granddaughter, “See the blind man across the street: Go and tell him your name, and offer to walk him across the street.” Of course, the little girl did exactly what her grandmother said. “My name is Marianne, may I walk across the street with you?” This was a life-changing event in the young girl’s life. In this simple act, she discovered the joy of service. She has been a Franciscan Sister of Peace for many years now.
We may receive such gifts during this time of Christmas, small gifts that shape our lives into the future. And then there are gifts that ask us for the big response: the “Big Give,” such as a vocation to religious life that asks for your life to be the hand of Christ for others.
Being the hand of Christ for others can take many forms. The invitation and the grace to say “yes” come from God who lives among the people, especially those who are on the margins. Women have many options. You will do it in your own way. It’s an unknown future. How is God asking you to be the hand of Christ for others?
Sister Judith Benkert, OP
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Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP
Sister Mariane Fahlman, OP
Adrian Dominican Sisters
1257 East Siena Heights Drive
Adrian, Michigan 49221-1793
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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 new video series called DISCO (Discernment Conversations): Dancing with the questions of life!