Stepping out of the boat

By Amata.

I was a sophomore in college, haunted by a persistent idea.  Could I be called to religious life?  This thought had persisted since I was eleven years old, but the urgency was new.  At January’s March for Life, I met some amazing religious sisters. Before I knew it, I was finishing my sophomore year, bidding farewell to my close-knit community of friends and professors. I entered that order the following August.  Leaving family and friends to enter religious life was the hardest thing I had done. Through the tears, I was still able to see Christ bidding me to come to Him, to walk upon the waters. During the months that followed, I was able to truly put out into the deep and bask in the light of His love.  Through this, I experienced the relationship that is possible through prayer and silence.

A year and a half later, I was again invited to leave the boat. I had loved my time in the convent, but the summons came to go home to my family and, from there, to discern the possibility of cloistered life. I left my habit, my community, and my religious life behind to follow the call. Readjusting to life “in the world” was particularly challenging. There were many moments of sinking into the waters, but through it I learned that, although I felt like I had lost so much, my only security was in the person of Christ. I learned that I needed to rely on Him even more than before, and to trust Him as I navigated these waters.

Seven cloister visits later, my world shifted again. I was on my third visit to a cloister, and during this visit was seriously discussing the application and potential entrance dates with the mother superior. And then the call came again. This time, He was inviting me to step out onto the waters of lay life and to be open to the vocation of married life. This change was completely unexpected. However, a deep peace was present, just as it had been the previous two times. Within a short time after this visit, I had a car, an apartment, and a full-time job.

Now, several years later, as I look back on these three events, I notice how much I have grown through them. My “fiat” cannot just apply to one event. If I say yes to whatever God wants in my life, then I must be open to all of the very different, crazy things that He can ask of me. My time with the active order taught me about the powerful and relentless way that Christ loves each one of us. As I left the convent, I learned that He, and He alone, is my rock in this world.  And as I look back on the cloister that I almost joined, I can only laugh.  I laugh at God’s surprising way of guiding my life and turning it upside down time and time again. I laugh at the way He somehow has access to my heart to guide it so well. I marvel at the way He always, always guides me with a sense of peace.  And the next time I am called to step out of the boat to follow Him, I will probably laugh at the idea. Indeed, God has given me laughter.

From My Inner Cell (1): A Meditation on Hope

By AfterEpiphany.© Xalanx | - <a href="">Prison bars</a>

I think Joseph is quite a comfort to the average convent/seminary leaver. I’m not talking St. Joseph the Foster-Father of Jesus… he’s awesome, yes. But right now I’m talking about the owner of a certain Technicolour Dreamcoat.

We all recall that he was sold into slavery by his brothers who were offended that he seemed to think himself better than he really was. He was thrown into prison because he turned out to be better than the Pharoah’s wife thought he was. And if the irony of all of that wasn’t enough, throw in the fact that he was accompanied in his unjust fate by two others who deserved their punishment!

Unlike the Event for which this was a pre-figurement, where one of the thieves asked to be remembered by the Innocent One when He entered His Kingdom, in this case rather it was the innocent one who asked to be remembered:

“Only think of me when all is well with you, and please do me the great favor of mentioning me to Pharoah, to get me out of this place.” (Gen 40:14)

This request was made of the “chief cupbearer,” who promptly forgot all about Joseph when he left the prison. Joseph remained in prison for another two years.

What on earth went through Joseph’s mind and emotions over that two year period? What do you think he prayed about during that time? Did he give up hope that he would be remembered and freed? Was there some point at which he decided there was no way he was ever getting out of there, and was that belief something that sparked off the grief cycle for Joseph? Do you think He got angry at God? Perhaps he felt as though he had been forsaken? I wonder if that first little while after leaving the convent/seminary isn’t just a little bit like Joseph’s time in prison?

In the story of Joseph, we cannot help but notice that he did not return to Canaan. Yet as the adventure played out, albeit in a place other than that which Joseph had planned, it is worth remembering that God provided him with the means to put things right with his brothers, to be reunited with his father and to live a full and happy life.