What Has Shaped My Life?
In writing to his friends, Beethoven was fond of saying, "I would have written you a shorter letter, but I did not have time."
Four times a year, the writers among us gather their thoughts in preparation for meeting the deadline of our Journey and The Joy. We ask ourselves, "What is upon me? What is it I feel called to share with others?" While the articles may begin with some kind of sketchy title, the substance of the article always begins with a blank page, with the author wondering if there will be enough to fill that page. Paradoxically, the end result is a word count that exceeds the accepted limit.
Recently, this happened with my own contribution. The article took on its own journey and its own life. In a published journal, I had found two fascinating questions that I used to introduce my own thoughts: "What are four beliefs that have shaped your life?" it read, "Have they served you well?"(*)
Later, as I shared these questions with others, I found my listeners to be immediately intrigued, and quite eager to enter into dialogue. As a result, my own beliefs became not only more refined, but affirmed. The following reflects some of the beliefs that came into focus.
I believe that true prayer calls for a great personal honesty. Indeed, it is a challenge to be oneself before God. How do I really feel? What is it that I really believe about the subject at hand? What is the bottom line deep within my heart where the Spirit always resides, holding that light St. John of the Cross speaks of in his poem, The Dark Night?
I believe that the saints are in a position to help us, and that their spirit and message live on in the world and in us. I also believe that we may well be living with saints and do not know it and that, if we could peer into the hearts of others, we would view them differently. I mostly believe that people are basically good.
I believe that even though I may have many questions, life ultimately has meaning.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, I believe that at the center of all that is, there is a gracious and kindly Presence who continually arranges things for our good, a Presence who loves us and helps us to grow in love, into whose life and embrace I am continually being drawn.
* Heron Dance, Issue 29, Rod Maclver (Middlebury, VT: Heron Dance, 2000) p.5Sister Mary Jo Loebig, O.C.D.