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
With the start of Advent we begin a time of waiting for the coming of Jesus into our daily lives. In a strange way Advent reminds me of flower bulbs. These oddly-shaped forms are planted in the autumn here in the northern hemisphere, come up every spring and then blossom in beauty. Without waiting throughout the winter buried in the darkness under the soil, they wouldn’t be able to blossom. Darkness and waiting are essential to the fulfillment of their purpose.
When we discern what God’s call is for our lives we often do lots of waiting, praying, and listening without knowing just what the answer may be or when it will come to us. Much like the bulbs (were they able to feel) we wait without knowing, sometimes impatiently, until the time is right. We’re not in control, just as the conditions needed for bulbs to grow are not.
During Advent we’re invited to enter into the mystery, the waiting and the right time to receive the guidance we need.
Blessings on your Advent waiting,
At Thanksgiving time we make explicit our gratitude to God and all the people and parts of life and creation that we take for granted every other day of the year. One aspect for our attention is our ability to discern our next steps in life with the help of the Spirit.
This year as we celebrate Thanksgiving, let’s take time to notice and to count our insights and blessings that come to us as gifts of the discernment process. Whether they have a large or small impact, each of them moves us forward in our lives.
“If the only prayer we ever say is ‘thank you’, it is enough!” (Meister Eckhart)
Thank you joining us here each week,
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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 video series called DISCO (Discernment Conversations): Dancing with the questions of life!