The Way Chooses Us
It seems that one of the most difficult things in life is to pray and live from where we are, and not from where we should be, or where we would like to be. Related to this, it has been a long-standing custom for those entering Carmel to choose not only a new name, but also a title, a mystery that represents their unique approach to life, and to God. For example, St. Therese, the Little Flower, was known as Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, a mystery that truly ended up being played out in her life.
I have found that people coming into Carmel relish with enthusiasm praying over what their unique mystery might be, and when they finally come upon it, they hold their title with a holy and sacred reverence. Often enough, though, as their lives unfold in the milieu of Carmel , they wonder if they should change their title, or at least modify it a bit.
If we were to give St. Therese a title, we probably would say that she should be known as Therese of the Little Way, since this is indeed what she gave to the world. Dag Hammarskjold says that we do not choose the way, but that the Way chooses us. This means that we can never really possess our own unique way, but only touch it here and there, now and then. Little by little, in the events of our lives and in our prayer, our mystery unfolds. I ask myself how one stays within the way. My own feeling is that, when we go toward God, we are to do so with the whole of lives and not just part of ourselves. It would seem that this approach helps one stay within the Way. Listening to the yearnings and stirrings within is also an aid.
We live and pray, then, from where we are and how we feel at the moment, whether this moment is one of physical discomfort, calm, upset or doubt. Undetected by us, “something boundless of God” * lives within and is quietly and faithfully at work. For myself, now and then, I sense the Mystery that is embracing me and give thanks for this one tiny obscure awareness, knowing that someday the embrace will be forever.
*An expression used by Heribert Arens, ofm, in UISG, #113, 2000, p.13
Sister Mary Jo Loebig, O.C.D.