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Question: When was the Moment I said Yes?

In a comment on the last post, a question was asked of me and I have decided to address it in a post. IT is something that I have not thought too much about, but rather but too consumed by so many other things.

What was the moment when you said, “okay God, that’s what I’ll do?”

The past day, since I read that question, I have thought up and down my whole life to find that moment.  Now, one may think that would be an easy thing, but I can not find a single “ah ha!” moment that rings true in me.  Instead, there are just all these little things that have come together slowly for me.  There is the feeling that there is so much more for me, the love of working with youth at camp, the passion for retreat work, the longing to find ways to make my faith really strong, wanting to help people, being there for my friends whenever they need someone, finding God in abstract ways, and so many other things.

For most my life, I always remember wanting to be outside, and just be.  There was something amazing and wonderful about being outside.  As time went on, especially when I hit college and got to go in the bluffs on hikes, I realized being outside was one of the places that I found God the most.  I wanted to make my faith stronger and understand why I continued to stay Catholic rather than stray elsewhere.

The pull for something more was there in high school, but when I hit college, it really yanked on me.  I wrote before about the struggles between the awesome points, as well as the difficulties I had with finding a major that I really felt I was supposed to do.  All of it was important, but through it all, I wanted more and to do something unique to reach out.  When I first asked myself what it would be like as a religious sister during my sophomore year, I had no idea it would stick this far.

Looking now to all that has happened since I met the Salesians for the first time, as much as I freaked out on the outside, I have done nothing but smile about the whole thing.  Sure, there are those questioning moments that I mentioned previously.  Even in that, I found myself smiling.  When I went to do my interview this past Monday, I was beaming.  Something has felt right the entire time, even though I have never been able to 100% admit it yet.

Basically, I have said yes over and over, but have said no a few times too in between.  I have been telling myself and preparing myself for a long time now, to be open to whatever God may call me to do.  It was this path, religious life, that I had never expected to come to me.  Now, I just need to continue to accept it.  I am happy to thinking of my life this way and I smile unable to stop smiling even when I try hard.  What I have found helps is knowing that many people are following in the journey, one of the reasons I want this blog out there.

I hope this answers that question, even though straightforward it is not.  Thanks for following.  Peace and Prayers!

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2010 in Inner Reflection

 

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Some Things I Have Learned

As time goes one, and I think even more about my future, I have learned a few things.  One thing I am already familiar with; I am a very deep thinker.  When it comes to big decisions, or even small trivial ones, I will weigh out absolutely everything about each thing that I could choose.  This presents itself an issue at times.  It leads me to asking just about every what if and any other question there could possible be asked.  For example…

Do sisters go swimming?  Can I swim at the lake in the summer with my family? (Keep in mind this is more of a question for FOUR years from now…)

Can I bring my books? movies? music?

How often do I get to see my friends?

What if I am completely wrong and heard God wrong…look at all this hoop-la I have created!?

What if what I believe in does not exist?

How do I handle doing this sister thing for the rest of my life?

Skirts…not always good for people like me when ungraceful, can I wear leggings (even colorful ones!) underneath?

Will I be able to go work TEC retreats or can I go work/participate in retreats at the Marianist Retreat Center?

Let me tell you, the list goes on and on and on forever.  Somedays they are the same questions, somedays they are very much different.  Most the time, they fly in and out of my mind.  I do have to say, the one about swimming and about wearing random colored leggings underneath the habit or the uniform in formation are common questions in my mind.  Is this weird that I am asking these things?  No, I guess not, so I am told.  Deep thinker, can one tell?

I love to write, poetry mostly.  Every now and then you get a psalm out of me, or some lyrics.  One of these days, a friend of mine (not sure which one yet) will get some music to them.  It is there that what is in me pours out the best onto paper.  Sometimes, as I have learn, things that I would nto have expected to come across pours from my entire being through my hands into words.  I have learned to appreciate better the words I write.  An artist is his/her biggest critic, but that artisit need to realize the beauty within themselves.  God doesn’t make junk, and since that makes one not junk, nor is what they create.

Finally, as much as I freak out and worry and rethink my choice to go forward with entering into formation for religious life, I think I really want it in some deep level of my being.  When the topic of religious life first came up, it did intrigue me quite a bit, but I paid no mind to its possibilities in my life.  As it came up at other times, I do see now that I was never saying no, but I would get as close to it as possible.  Me, a religious sister, you have to be kidding me, right?  When that moment in the bathroom came, and two worlds collided, I was not sure what to think, but only to follow those two people who seemed to have what I wanted.  Working with youth, nad furthermore retreats, then this underlying thought of religious life that sat in me!  How in the world does this happen to me, bizzare ways of discovering things.

At some level, I was relieved.  God gave me something to put on my chalkboard.  I say chalkboard because I used to think that my level was a black void nothing that would lead no where that would be good.  Instead, I see it now as a chalkboard that was slowly being wiped clean so that God could write His plans out for me to study so I can go take the ultimate test, living for Him!

I have learned, you need to be open and see the world for what it is in its simple beauty.  You need to be open to the creativity that is within you.  It is ok to question, but don’t let it consume you.  Be who God made you as, so in essence, be you, who else could you be?  God has a plan for me as you may have noticed, what is yours?

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2010 in Inner Reflection

 

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Waiting Within

Fresh from my hands and my heart, I give to you another poem.  It is entitled “Waiting Within.”

Do you see it like I can see it now

Where did it come from, but how

It flutters around in me like a butterfly

Somehow it has lifted my spirits very high

My insides, oh do they really feel it

It is almost too much, how can I just sit

Oh the urge, it is definitely there

All this time left to go, can it I bear

Questions, oh the questions in my head

There are so many what ifs to be said

See that thing lurking in the darkness

I think it wants to make me feel less

No, wait, it cannot be allowed as so

With this light that warms me I must go

Why this brightness that must fill me

Where it leads, this I must really see

It sends away all that seems to pain

Oh the smiles that I cannot contain

For this greatest you give, I long

Just look at what it gives me, such song

The wait, will I make it to that day

The entering moment coming my way

Oh do pray for me this time to wait

Until comes that very special date

The things that fill me inside are numerous and great and in such varying degrees!  Into rhyme I do fall in the midst of it all!

Fact: There are four years of formation for the Salesian sisters that one must go through before taking first vows.  The following definitions are taken from Merriam-Webster.  The first year is Aspirancy.  An aspirant is “one who aspires.”  The second year is Postulancy.  A postulant is “a person admitted to a religious order as a probationary candidate for membership.”  The third and forth years are the novitiate.  A novice is “a person admitted to probationary membership in a religious community.”

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2010 in Creative Corner, Living Salesian

 

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Learning Patience

“The time is coming quickly, and what I show you will come true.  It may be slow in coming, but wait for it; it will certainly take place, and it will not be delayed.”  Habakkuk 2:3

Patience is something that I have learned to have through the course of my life.  It is amazing how many forms and levels of patience do exist that we must be aware of and strive to attain.  Patience with people, with things, and most of all with God.  Patience in jobs, in the family, in the community, and in yourself.

The first time I encountered patience is with my family.  I have very different ideas at times on how to go about things and approach situations.  It seemed that meeting at an equal ground was very hard.  While we did argue a bunch, there was an underlying patience that all parties had to discover.  It is an ongoing adventure this one, but one that hopefully continues to move in the right direction.  It will be difficult as I never saw myself to close to my family, but alas, they are my family.

Another place where patience was encountered in a big way for me was my summers on staff at a Girl Scout camp.  There are staff that come from other countries as well as the domestic camp.  Growing up going to camp and having a particular connection to the camp, it was difficult at time to work with those hwo may have not understood the deep profound affect that a camp can have on a child.  You also have to consider the 30 or so women living together; as one can imagine, this could cause a lot of tensions.  Working with people who would do things differently than me or not understand was difficult.  When things were the other way around as well, provided to be just as difficult.  It is in those times that I learned patience.  As well, with the girls that would come to camp, you had to portray a good deal of patience balanced with a cross between I am you friend adn you must follow these rules.

In university is where I learned the  most patience with myself, as well as developing my patience with other people.   I struggled, as I have mentioned in a previous post, with my school work.  I found myslef getting frustrated with myself only to be remending that patience with ones own way of accomplishing things is needed.

Where I am now is another place of patience learning that I have.  As difficult as it may be at times, I learn much from the people here as well as patience in working with others.  Though there may be few of us, our ways of doing things and thoughts on how things should be done vary greatly.  It has been a great challenge, but rewarding when tackled with patience.

The biggest thing I am learning in terms of patience is what lies ahead for my future.  Entering with the Salesians this coming August has me scattered all over the place.  While I may hav enot finished the application and turned it in, it has been made clear to me that I am pretty much set once all that is done.  The way I feel about things as shifted gears and I am anticipating the moment of entrance.  It was also presented to me what could be a chance for me to go live with my aunt in Italy (orgins of this particular order) so that I may learn some Italian, travel and see some churches there, and work in ministry.  It sounds simply amazing, but I need to remember my job here.  There is this urge in my to be back visiting with the sisters and to be joining them.  There is a great deal of time before that happens.  In God’s time things will happen.  I was sent to the point of Jersey for a reason, and now I must finish my stay here before I move on.  Let us travel back to that bible quote.

“The time is coming quickly, and what I show you will come true.  It may be slow in coming, but wait for it; it will certainly take place, and it will not be delayed.”  Habakkuk 2:3

God has shown my the Salesian Sisters, and it is to be.  There is much time before that happens and I must wait until the alloted time of entering.  I need to remember that it will happen, and not be delay any longer from the time is must occur.  Patience is what needs to exist until that point.  Patience with God that He indeed knows what he is doing.

Fact: St. Mary Mazzarello (1837-1881) worked with St. John Bosco (also known as Don Bosco) and found the Salesian Sisters in 1872.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2010 in Inner Reflection, Living Salesian

 

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Weekend of Wonders

When I went to bed Friday night, I knew it was coming in all its glory.  Being a Minnesota native in Cape May Point, New Jersey, I was one of few who gladly awaited its coming.   The snow had already started to dust the ground around 4pm, and I knew it was going to be great.  The reports made people frightened.  They talked of power outages, how the grocery stores were becoming bare, and boots along with shovels where exiting the stores faster than one can imagine.  Bedtime came after a viewing of the movie Twister (one of my favorites by the way).  Around that time, the winds start gusting and the storm had arrived at 11pm!  I woke at what must have been early in the morning.  Laying there, I imagined what the ground must look like, but I was too cozy to look  out the window.  Suddenly (dun dun dun!) my phone went off.  It was Sister Colleen and I responded to her, causing myself to look at the phone and see it was 7:15am, crazy time for being able to sleep in.

The next realization was that the power was out and it was going to get gradually colder in my room.  The awesome thing is that I was able to go within a few yards to the house that the Marianist Brothers and Priest live.  There living room and TV room and stove top are gas (yay!).  It was a day to just sit and think.  I spent a lot of time looking out the window at the snow with teh wind gusting it all around.  We play some cribbage, I read, we had a delicious dinner together, and built a fire in the fireplace.  Falling asleep Saturday night on the chair in their living room, I felt a warmth of community and a comfort knowing they would take me in from my cold room!  Staring into the fire I looked into myself and the fire that has been burning in me.  It was a great moment for contemplation.

Sunday, we woke up and had mass at 8:30am in the living room.  It was a very interesting moment.  There are things I miss of mass with friends in a small group like that, but it was still pretty cool.  After breakfast, the real work began.  Shoveling all day.  I shall spare you from all the stories.  I will say that at 3:45 when everyone was done workign for the day, I decided that I was going to dig my car out and head to see the Salesians (FMA).  Let me say this, I had plenty of chances to do it earlier in the day giving me an earlier departure.  Needless to say, grand total of time spent on getting my car out (including the little I did in the morn to get my sunglasses) one and a half hours.  That is what you call darn good Minnesota smarts on how to properly get out a car.

Skipping many things, my visit to the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians was so much needed.  I was actually going crazy not being able to spend some time up there.  The biggest part of my weekend was that within 20 minutes of showing up Sister Collleen had me set up with my interview with Sister Phyllis at 7:30 Monday morning after prayers, mass, and breakfast.  I was not so much worried about the actual interview as I was worried that I was having to have the interview!  It turned out to be awesome and apparently I had the biggest grin on my face.  My visit only proved to be awesome with them.  The sad part was the part when I had to leave.

Other people I love there (I love everyone…but these have stories kind of) are Sister Ramona and Sister Rosalie.  My first visit, I was with Jen (met in bathroom, gave me a medal) and Sister Ramona setting up Christmas decorations.  Sister Ramona is sweet and fun and she always seems to make me smile!  Sister Rosalie is so lovely and I find inspiration in her.  I had the pleasure of walking in from prayer a couple times with Sister Rosalie, as well as helping clean up some things after dinner.  That lady will make me smile always as well!

For continuous readers, my absence was due to the sad weather.  I hope to be posting each day again, if not twice when there is a creative spirit in me.  For those one time readers, I urge you to read into the words I share.  There is much wisdom to be found for different people in one singular creative burst.  Peace!

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Prayer: See Inward, See Outward

This poem I wrote a couple days before I started to share my journey with all of you.  It was what gave the final push to have me start this blog.  I was lost as to what to title it at first, but this is what became of it.  It is a poem entitled “Prayer: See Inward, See Outward.”

There is this deep longing
Something that burns deep within
I want to run out dancing
But where do I really begin
I close my eyes and start to see
This image of complete joy
A woman of God who is free
Her faith she wants to employ
Songs in the heart filled with love
A voice with much to speak
Sharing what came from above
God’s will is what she does seek
My eyes open again with hope
At what could be my mission
With fear I must certainly cope
With God I must share vision
The longing inside I do hold
Burns to be released for you
Dancing and singing so bold
Beginning to live I must do
With God in my beating heart
Showing all those who care
Eyes wide open I am a part
Beauty in faith is my prayer

This one lends itself to speak on its own!

Fact: The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (FMA, aka Salesian Sisters) are the largest female religious order in the world.  They are approximately 14,430, the next order of women down is 9,693!  You can find these and more statistics in the Catholic Almanac 2010 on page 487.

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2010 in Creative Corner, Living Salesian

 

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Vocation

Here you will find a poem that was rattled out of me during my second visit to the sisters.  I was helping Sr. Colleen with some tings on her computer and then had the urge to type out a poem.  This is what came of that.  I was not sure what to call it, so I asked Sr. C to look at it and see what see thinks.  I had a title in mind, but I was not sure if I wanted to call it as such.  After she read it, she said to call it “Vocation.”  Oddly enough, that was what I was thinking about calling it before I even asked.  Thus it was confirmed, that was to be the name.  I now leave you to read a poem entitled “Vocation.”

It is not very quiet in her heart so full
There is this tug, this bit of a pull
Something calling to do a little more
Drawing her to see what is in store
Fear trembles from deep within
She has no idea where to begin
There was a visit to come and see
Leaving her now on bended knee
With all of this she is left to wander
Her friends give her much to ponder
In all the moments of her past
Maybe this is what will forever last

It was exactly what I was feeling at that moment in time.  The visit was after the second weekend in Advent, a Monday to Tuesday visit.  As you may notice, in writing creatively is where I find it easiest to express myself.  Maybe God works through me that way.  It is something I have explored the possibility of.  I hope you find something of yourself in what I write, and remember,  don’t be afraid to comment!

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2010 in Creative Corner

 

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I Am Ready For You

This is the second of two writings that came from my hands a night or two (do not recall exactly) after my visit the the Salesian Sisters/FMA over Thanksgiving.  It is a poem entitled “I Am Ready For You.”

Jeremiah 29:13 “When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart.”

Oh Lord I did not see
I was not searching as I should
Searching You with all my heart
Now I see that You were there
And in lack of giving all my heart
Blind I did stay, lost in the world
Here, though, a change occurred
I give You all my heart now
Take it and do with it as You please
I earnestly search for You
Actively waiting for Your call in my life
Take me where You will, protect me
You say You are waiting for me
I say I am ready for You, here I am

As you can see, it is based off Jeremiah 29:13.  This was the verse for my first TEC retreat.  Since then, it is the verse that I say often in life.  When I would go for time to pray with Jesus, I would say it when I get there, and when I leave.  For the longest time I had thought I was giving my whole heart to searching for His will for me.  That night in the chapel, it hit me, there was no way in the world I was doing that!  It is a hard thing to do.  Although I am better at it now, it still is difficult.  Remember, give your whole heart to searching for the Lord and He will not abandon you!

Fact: FMA is the Italian name for the sisters.  It stands for Figlie di Maria Ausiliatrice (Daughters of Mary Help of Christians) which was the name Don Bosco wanted for his Religious.  As noted before, in English speaking countries, they are referred to as Salesian Sisters.

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2010 in Creative Corner, Living Salesian

 

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You Call For Me

This is the first of two writings that came from my hands a night or two (do not recall exactly) after my visit the the Salesian Sisters/FMA over Thanksgiving.  It is a psalm entitled “You Call For Me.”

Lord, you call for me. Help me to listen and to follow You.

Lord, whatever You want.
However You want.
Whenever You want.
Wherever You want.
However much You want.

Lord, you call for me. Help me to listen and to follow You.

My heart is racing
My soul leaps for joy
Your love is in me
In Your arms I belong

Lord, you call for me. Help me to listen and to follow You.

To be Your hands and feet
A beacon of light for the world
To walk hand in hand with You
Filled with such passion and love

Lord, you call for me. Help me to listen and to follow You.

Never has a joy like this entered me
Like a streaming rush of water
A chance to fill an empty hole
To be Your servant, Your bride

Lord, you call for me. Help me to listen and to follow You.

Lord, whatever You want.
However You want.
Whenever You want.
Wherever You want.
However much You want.

Lord, you call for me. Help me to listen and to follow You.

I look at it again and again wondering where it came from.  It is beautiful, which is hard for an artist to say of their own work.  I wish I could fill myself again with whatever feelings of greatness were in me at that moment.  I hope you enjoy!

Fact: In the USA, this religious order I am looking at is commonly known as the Salesian Sisters of Saint John Bosco.  More formally, they are called the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, FMA.

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2010 in Creative Corner, Living Salesian

 

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Become an FMA…Really God?

I met the Salesian Sisters at NCYC 2009, in the bathroom.  The east provincial house  is in New Jersey.  How is it possible that I could learn about something that could be my future in another odd way, and only three hours from where I am this year?  When the vocation director, Sister Colleen (amazing person I must say), figured out I was from Minnesota and not going home the next weekend for thanksgiving, I was invited/talked into coming to stay at the convent the second half of Thanksgiving break.  That week between NCYC and going to see them was so busy that I had no time to even think about what was going to be going on.  I pulled up at the convent and felt this rush of all of a sudden stopping in my tracks.  Things slowed down and I was filled with questions.  What was I doing here?  How did this happen?  Why was I standing outside a convent hugging the vocation director?  Where did the time go?  When did I let myself decide I was comfortable visiting sisters at a convent?  The funny thing was after I was used to things, I was comfortable being there.  There was still some awkward moments with the sisters, not sure what to say.  They were pretty cool people, though, I must say.

When I got back to the retreat house I live at and work at, I called a friend or two.  I could not stop talking about the sisters and how I might be called to that but could I really do that, then one question and thought after another came pouring out of my mouth.  The person on the other end of the line did not have time to say anything!  It was overwhelming and confusing.  All those things I have talked about in past post about the moments religious life came up; I was going back in time and remembering those things.  Then, at the same time, the what if questions flowed from me as well.  I have not stopped thinking about this and trying to figure it out since NCYC, then that first visit over Thanksgiving the next weekend.  Of course, I should be leaving it all to God and praying that He will show me my path.  Then again, has He been already and I am not paying enough attention and letting Him do His work?

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2010 in Retreat Experience

 

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