year I lived, as part of the discernment process, with a community of Sisters
in Mayobridge, Co. Down. I continued to work at this point in my journey and
in that graced time I took time to reflect and think about my life, what I
was being called to do in life, which is a sacred journey, with my gifts and
talents. What was God's mission for me?
One year on, I am in my canonical year with the Sisters of St. Clare, a year
which concentrates on the inner spiritual journey, a year of retreat from life
as I knew it!!!
To be born is to be chosen, I wholeheartedly believe that each of us has a special
task, a unique destiny and our responsibility is to discern our life calling.
In this time of seeking and finding, I am not able to hide in busyness of school,
socialising, relationships etc. This is difficult and at times a lonely place
to be but I persevere as I am realising that God has taken the initiative in
the searching and placed desires in my heart and I for my part am making myself
available to be found.
I come from a committed, at times, catholic family and grew up with a sense
of God's presence and always had a sense of being guided and loved by him.
history challenged me to grow & question my faith and indeed own it more.
In 1998 when my brother Shane was on holiday in the US he was suddenly killed
crossing the road. I was greatly challenged. I ‘existed' for nearly two
years in no man's land. I found it difficult to acknowledge God as I was so very
angry and sad. This experience, in retrospect, is probably one of the most significant
points on my faith journey. One Lent, with a little help from a friend questioning
me unknowingly, I began to reflect upon things, I felt stronger, began to go
to Mass daily, was becoming more recognisable as me again, more human, I got
more involved with things in my parish and began to really consider my relationship
with God and began to work at deepening and developing it. One can only appreciate
the miracle of a sunrise if we have witnessed the dark, it is said. This is an
image I experienced powerfully during this time.
I suppose faith is not faith until it is tested. Little by little over the following
years I began to feel an attraction to the religious life. I had to acknowledge
the real attraction to the spirituality, humanity and simplicity of the life
the Sisters lead. I grappled with this not fitting in to the dream I had for
my life.., how countercultural this was and what on earth would people say???
The ways of the world can be very dissuading! I did though; have to be faithful
to my own inner truth and my belief that the religious life and the values preserved
in it are so important. It may need to change slightly in order to respond to
the needs and reality of the times but the essence embodied in religious life
will never go out of style. The human values of community, obedience, humility,
conversion of life, hospitality and stewardship are perennials. I could have
continued to wander on aimlessly or have the courage and strength to begin a
process. I took courage and that has brought me to this point.
St. Clare spoke of going ‘forward secure and with joy on the path
of happiness as we have a good escort for our journey.' I have had the
courage to further
discern whether this really is of God or some human thinking! If it is of God,
as the scriptures say, it will remain constant. I take heart from that.
We are all travellers and the journey is important not the destination.
I am now witnessing and living this reality first hand and I am being true
when I say that I am trusting in the larger plan God has for my life. Life itself
is a gift and I am trying to be attentive to the voice of God. I am trying to
figure out if I can pledge my life with a group of people who are mysteriously
drawn to the same love and are on the same journey. At a time when commitment
is short-lived, it is a big life choice to be considering. It is one of the weightiest
decisions, what to do with your life, the challenge is to be in harmony with
your gifts and needs. Our spirits however, must be open and perceptive in discovering
God's will for us. As Liam Lawton put it in his song ‘Labyrinth'- ‘Find
your stepping stones reflecting in the light, as you travel on beware of falling
night, As you journey on, you are not alone, You will find the courage to lead
you safely home.'
Sisters of St. Clare