Written by Sherry
Saturday, 29 September 2007 12:34
Back from the Diocesan Ministry Congress where I did a couple of break-out sessions and have fun of some great conversations with people who are discerning. Including this really intriguing conversation just before I left this morning.
A 40-something woman sitting at the booth next to us in the vendor's room asked me that most shaming of questions to a mendicant like myself: Do You Remember Me? AAAAAAHHHHHH!
I did a emergency search of the slovenly, jammed-packed warehouse that I call my brain but nothing turned up - no memory of her face or her story - much less her name. It was confession time - again since I face this dilemma several times a week. When you've worked directly with 33,000 people, that's about 32,800 people whom I encountered briefly and whose names I either never knew or have probably forgotten but whom I'm probably going to run into again - 6 months or 8 years down the road. (It has gotten to the point where I've had flight attendants come up to me in my seat and ask if I'm the "Called & Gifted" lady.) I long ago learned that honesty and self-depreciating humor is the only graceful way out.
I confessed. Mea Culpa. So she (I'll call her Fiona) filled me in. Apparently Fiona attended a workshop I taught about 21 months ago for religious educators and taking the Catholic Spiritual Gifts Inventory was a huge turning point in her life. And I did a "5 minute" interview with her, looking quickly at her inventory scores and pointing out the possible significance of the patterns. She had gotten a high score in celibacy and I asked her if she had ever considered religious life - which, though I didn't know it, was the single biggest issue in her life. I apparently pointed out that her profile was classically Dominican (a focus on communication gifts and charisms of understanding) and suggested that she might consider exploring Dominican communities.
So she did. She contacted Sr. Francine Barber, OP who now works for the Diocese of Pueblo, Colorado 40 miles away but who used to be stationed in Seattle. What this woman could not know was the Sr. Francine co-taught my very first RCIA program in Seattle all those years ago. I like to joke that I blame everything on Sr. Francine because she could stopped this whole "should I become Catholic?" thing at the very beginning.
After a year of discernment with Sr. Francine, "Fiona" realized that her call was to "stability" and she is, today, a aspirant to a local Benedictine women's community. And she said over and over that taking the Inventory and my brief conversation with her was very significant in that process.
God's network is amazing. Sr. Francine encouraged my first steps into the Church and then I (without knowing) was used by God to encourage this woman on her way into religious life which sent her to Sr. Francine - and so it goes.
It's the circle of Life alright. God calling us to his own life. And incredibly, He entrusts small but very significant roles in this great drama to every one of us.
I quote from C. S. Lewis' magnificent sermon "The Weight of Glory" at every Called & Gifted workshop and Lewis sums it up with such eloquence:
"It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load or weight or burden of my neighbor's glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strong tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you know meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.
All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations-these are mortal and their life is to our as the life of a gnat. But it immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit-immortal horrors or everlasting splendours."