I made applesauce over the weekend and noticed how many seeds each apple contained. As I sliced about a dozen green Granny Apples, I suddenly realized each one of those seeds represents the possibility of new life, even orchards of apple trees in the future. Of course, that got me thinking about how much the seeds are like the ways we discern our future.
When other people look at our lives, they don’t see any more clearly than we can about ourselves what are possibilities for our life choices: Married? When and to whom and how will I know? Single? Forever? For now? Until I meet someone special with a mutual attraction for me? Religious Life? When? Where? Active or contemplative? Missionary?
So, you see, many “seed-questions” show up once we've opened ourselves to them. Much like the apple seeds, they only become visible once we go deeper into the apple’s core. The challenge is to take the risk of opening ourselves to God’s call to us. Each of us has a calling. Our happiness is linked with our response to that call.
Pray to be ready for the opening. Trust that God is never outdone in abundance! Our part is to slow down, listen and consider the possibility that God is calling you to a life full of meaning.
I pray with you for this grace,
Semillas de Posibilidades
Hice salsa de manzana este fin de semana, y me di cuenta que tantas semillas cada manzana tiene. Mientras partí una dozena de manzanas tipo “Granny”, de repente me di cuenta que cada una de esas semillas representa la posibilidad de nueva vida, aun huertas de manzanas en el futuro. Por su puesto que esto me hizo pensar en cómo las semillas son como nosotras dicernimos el futuro.
Cuando otras personas miran nuestras vidas, ellos no ven algo más claro de lo que vemos de nosotras mismas cuales son las posibilidades para nuestras decisiones de la vida: ¿Casada? ¿Cuándo? y ¿Para quién y ¿Cómo sabré? ¿Soltera? ¿Para siempre? ¿Por ahora? ¿Hasta que conozca alguien especial con una mutua atracción? ¿Vida Religiosa? ¿Cuándo? ¿Dónde? ¿Activa o contemplativa? ¿Misionera?
Como te puedes dar cuenta, hay muchas “preguntas sobre las semillas” que aparecen al momento que nos abrimos a ellas. Como las semillas de las manzanas, solo se hacen visibles al momento que nos profundizamos al corazón de la manzana. El reto es de tomar el riesgo de abrirnos al llamado de Dios. Cada una de nosotras tenemos un llamado. Nuestro gozo está ligado a nuestra respuesta a ese llamado.
Reza para estar lista para la apertura. ¡Confía que la abundancia de Dios no tiene fin! Nuestra responsabilidad es de ir más despacio, escuchar y considerar la posibilidad que Dios te está llamando a una vida llena de significado.
Rezo contigo por esta gracia,
Most of us probably don’t think about the richness that exists at the edges. In permaculture design there is a principle that points out that there’s a lot going on at the edges – of gardens, a patch of grass, by a stream, or river. Let’s focus together on this image and reflect on our own edges in life.
In the photo you can see several edges: along the pathway, at the base of each tree, between the plowed ground and grasses. At the border or edges in our lives we are being influenced – maybe “shaped” is a better term – by each of them. It also means we have access to resources we need, some on one side of the border, some on the other. Sometimes we have a sense that we’re on the edge of something new, something being born in us. It can be exciting and also frightening.
It helps to be able to pray when we’re at these edges; pray to see what’s being called for from us. It also helps to have human accompaniment to talk with at the edges. It’s worth searching for what or whom you need at these important, rich edges of your life journey.
May you have the grace you need,
This link may be of support to you: DisCo (Discernment Conversation) Playlist
Jesus tells a parable about seeds in Mark’s Gospel that seems to fit our experience as we discern God’s call for our lives. He mentions four places the seeds land: sandy soil, rocky soil, soil covered in thorny plants, and rich soil. This is how the seeds work in our lives.
We might get a hint that we‘re called to be a Sister, a member of a religious community. Of course, it doesn’t go anywhere because it doesn’t get the needed attention from us. It dries up like sand and blows away. Another time we may hear a homily or a lecture in class that sparks the same desire. This time we do some research into various communities available, but after a little while that too gets put on the (rocky) shelf, so to speak, and we forget about it.
At a future time maybe a friend, a mentor or a family member asks whether we had ever considered joining a religious order. This time because they know us as well as they do, we take notice of their question and ask what they see in us that made them ask. This time we actually spend time thinking about their question, maybe journaling our thoughts and feelings. But after a while our job demands increase, worries about paying off student loans or the next fad around campus or clothing that comes into fashion chokes off our attention to this possibility.
Perhaps several months or years later the thought about joining a religious order comes into our awareness again. This time we realize there might be something to it and we talk with our pastor or a Sister or we start meeting with a spiritual director. This time we’re committed to respond differently and more wholly. This time the Spirit can work in the rich soil our lives have become. This time we decide to trust the Spirit’s influence to grow in us until we bear fruit. Such is the way of the Sower of seeds.
May we be diligent in cultivating the rich soil of our lives,
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
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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 new video series called DISCO (Discernment Conversations): Dancing with the questions of life!