In most situations, I have been reluctant to follow the Lord’s promptings, fearful that I would make a mistake or not measure up; convinced that I was mistaken in my interpretation of God’s call—why me?
Moses, Jeremiah and Jonah have been my brothers in questioning the call, and like them, eventually I give in and try to do what I believe God is asking. I let go of my fears—or push through them—to take the first step on the path before me.
Becoming a religious sister was one of those paths.
After college, I explored the possibility of religious life. I was fine with the exploring stage; I even enjoyed it. Having a spiritual director was a requirement, and that step has proved to be incredibly beneficial. But then one day, about three years into the process, the Novice Mistress pushed me for a decision. Was I going to enter or not? I said “yes,” and as soon as the word was out of my mouth, I knew it was wrong. I knew I could not go through with it, and I changed my “yes” to a “no.”
I stepped away, but with gratitude for the discernment process, which had revealed insights into my relationship with God and my spiritual journey.
My time with the Sisters deepened my desire to live the Gospel more radically, and l’Arche was the next step on my journey. That, too, proved not to be a good fit. But, it was also a great learning experience and helped me move further along my spiritual path.
Life post-l’Arche put me in a suburban parish with people who had heard of l’Arche but not seen it. They were curious, and their curiosity made me feel odd.
What was it about me that I was willing to leave everything behind and try something as different as l’Arche? And how could I explain that something that was so difficult, something I had failed at so miserably, was also a great gift? It was not logical.
Like Jonah, I wanted to hide, to be left alone. I wished a fish would swallow me! But, no such luck.
When people asked about my time in l’Arche, I demurred and suggested they go visit a l’Arche community to see for themselves.
God has continued to prompt me, and I have learned to narrow my path. I now know that everyday living has plenty of opportunities to live the Gospel in very radical ways. Small acts of kindness can make huge differences in the lives of people who are ill or confined. Practicing forgiveness and letting go can fill my days.
Where I believe God is prompting me now is to claim what God has taught me on my journey and to share what I have learned. I still have to push through doubts and fears. And I remind myself that in the spiritual journey, it is God who leads the way; my part is to show up and be open.