Affirmation: All things are possible through God.
Forty women were present at the weekend retreat.
The command was "Women of God, you are called to change the world." I panicked. Maybe now would be a good time for me to run out of the room.
I'm working hard enough trying to be the best me possible or somedays I'm working on simply accepting myself just as I am. I really couldn't imagine being responsible for the entire world. I've felt responsible for my entire world for years, my family, friends and community. It's a daunting exercise and now here I am being told, not asked, but told I am being called to take on the entire world.
Yes, I believe the world needs help. I believes it needs to change. It doesn't take much awareness to know our world is very troubled and sad. I pray daily for wisdom for our world leaders, a prayer introduced to me by a friend of long ago and I pray daily for world peace. Can you imagine how different life would be were we all at peace with one another? At the least maybe they'd take away the security lines at the airport and we could leave on our shoes, belts and watches.
"Let there be peace and earth and let it begin with me. Let there be peace on earth a peace that was meant to be." We sing this song often in church, The Prayer of Saint Francis. My dear friend and guide, Valerie Kelly, use to emphasize the need for more feminine energy in the world and how much better off the world would be with a stronger female presence. I would hope that if we have not moved too far away from our feminine selves, women running the world would lead to a kinder, more nurturing place and people. I believe most women are very protective of the greatest product of their lives and would do all in their power to prevent sending their children off to suffer war and perhaps to die.
At the Not So Big Life Workshop, Sarah Susanka encouraged us to "run towards those things" of which we are afraid. She suggested some of our greatest learning experiences would come from not retreating from that which repels us. I took a deep breath and decided to continue with the church program for which I had registered. After eight weeks of study, a weekend retreat was being presented and I decided to go all the way and see what other life lessons might come my way.
The number of women who had taken the time and made the effort to attend this event, made me realize how much need there is for women to spiritually feed ourselves and to join forces. I had decided not to worry about the command to "save the world" but instead to allow the richness of the rest of the program's material and the power of the women's spirit to empower and nurture me. Our first speaker was Theresa Davis.
There she stood a tiny woman perhaps in her late 70's or early 80's ready to share with us the secret of leading a rich, powerful life. She had been with the lay ministry Madonna House for fifty seven years and as she spoke, I felt the walls around my heart fall. Her manner of sharing did not cause me to erect any protective barriers. I had no resistance to her. I just wanted to absorb all she had to share. It was a very unusual response for me. I must confess to being quite a skeptic, always questioning but not this morning. This morning when Theresa's time was up, the whole group moaned, "no, let her continue." She too was calling us, the women of God, to change the world but not by ourselves, together and by allowing God to work in and through each of us. "Yes" I thought, "all things are possible with God."
Theresa went on to say that we are all being called to become saints. Oh, no! I was just getting my head around "saving the world" and now, I need to also become a saint! Being a cradle Catholic I'm somewhat familiar with many of the saints and I am here to tell you, they did not have an easy time of it. The saints of old were tortured and killed. Many appeared just plain crazy, hearing the voice of God and going off to do really weird stuff. Our most recent saint, Mother Teresa had a very difficult life. The women and men of her order only posses a few worldly items: a sari, a bucket and a thin mattress. Certainly, she made the world a better place and I am in awe of her and her works but I like the comforts of home. I like bathing in a tub or shower and not using a bucket and I really like my bed, and my clothes. No, sainthood is not something I'd ever had on my radar. But, Theresa Davis was not going to let me off so easily. Her words and her tone had already drawn me to her and now she was going to give me a few tools to help lead me down a holier path. The first tool was being present to "the duty of the moment." So simple, so very difficult.
The call of every spiritual discipline I have ever studied or read about is, "be present to the moment." Live consciously! Theresa shared that "God is only present in the moment." Then came the second step towards sainthood. She echoed Mother Teresa's famous saying, "Do little things with great love." Again, so simple and yet so very difficult. Finally, she extolled us to live more simply. The question was, "What's holding you back? What is the baggage you are lugging around?" I immediately thought this was going in the direction of the sari, bucket and thin mattress but no, it was way harder than that. Our "baggage" Theresa said, was our: anger, resentments, pride, self-deceit, envy and greed. I immediately wanted to grab that bucket and just go with that. This was way more difficult. Yes, difficult but certainly well worth working towards. Certainly a project which I'm sure God would like to be involved.
My faith teaches that once we die and enter into heaven, we all become saints. I think this is a good thing because while I want to do my part to "save the world" and I'm willing to accept that I'm being called to be a "saint," the probability of my achieving these feats even with God's help seems to me quite slim. So, on days when I'm simply trying to accept myself as I am, I'll know there's great hope for me, for all of us, in the future, in the afterlife.