Last year at a Vocations event in Calgary, a habited Religious Sister I know shared an anecdote about a morning which saw her engaging in the routine task of taking out the garbage. A man happened to be walking by. He saw her and stopped, staring at her for some moments. He then approached her to say “I hadn’t thought of God today until I saw you.” I was deeply touched by this story. Imagine inspiring another to contemplate God by the simple act of dressing for the day and putting the garbage out!
I’m often moved by these moments that we, as Religious, are so fortunate to witness to just by the gift of being Religious. I ‘gave testimony’ at a Charismatic event in June, and was approached afterwards by a man who had listened to me speak, in part, about the Ignatian Examen. He had with him a creased and well-worn book of Ignatian Examens that he used frequently himself. It struck me that he should have been the one speaking to the group about the value of this particular style of prayer, as he seemed more devoted to it than anyone I’d ever met. I was touched by his faithfulness to it and by the sense that he wanted to share his love for this particular style of worship with me, who as a Religious Sister in an Ignatian Congregation, he knew would uniquely understand.
When we read in the Gospel of Luke about Mary treasuring the events of the Christmas story and pondering them in her heart, I think that this is an integral part of what we are called to do as Religious: to see God at work in the ordinary unfolding of our day and to make time to inwardly sit with these moments, letting their joy permeate our very being. I think it is part of our gift as Religious that we can uniquely witness these moments, for we are called to live the Gospel in a more public, corporate way than others. People perceive that we will appreciate these ‘God-moments’ in ways that many others may not. Many recognize us as a safe-haven with whom they can share these precious gems.
I am a teacher/chaplain in a junior high school and was recently walking behind a group of students in the hallway. I saw one of the students briefly turn his head to catch sight of me in his peripheral vision. Then, in a strong voice, he said to his friend walking with him, “Don’t you just love God? I just love God!” With a mischievous glint in his eyes, he suddenly turned around to greet me with pretend surprise and a big grin: “Oh, hey Sister Michelle!”
For me, this was a moment to cherish, not unlike that of the story of the Sister taking out the garbage. Here was a young person who had thought of God at the sight of me that day, albeit probably in a less reverent way than the anecdote above. Nevertheless, what a place of privilege to witness these small, ordinary God-moments that unfold before us! Let us try to make time to ponder them as we travel this Advent journey together.
Article and pictures by: Sr. Michelle Langlois, fcJ
Sr. Michelle has now professed 2 years of temporary vows with the Sisters of the Faithful Companions of Jesus (fcJ). She lives in Edmonton, AB and was born in Winnipeg, MB.