In Sister Suzanne Mayer’s book Celebrating the Woman You Are, she relates the story of Miriam from Ch. 15 of Exodus. After the Israelites cross the Red Sea, Miriam realizes the freedom that is theirs. She grabs a tambourine and begins singing and dancing. Soon, all the women follow, praising God. Miriam becomes aware of the truth within her and shares it with the community.
There are times when a truth within you arises and God inspires you to share it. The truth is that God is with us and loves us beyond our understanding. St. Angela Merici, who founded the Ursulines in 1535, felt that truth. She saw plagues, corruption and sinning. Like Miriam, she crossed her own Red Sea, leaving behind any negative reaction to loss. Her refuge was at the feet of Jesus, who led her to contemplation and action.
Each of us experienced that truth within when we were called to follow. Ask anyone about their moment of awareness of a vocation, and the answer feels like a mystery. It is a call deep within, hard to explain, that carries you through the difficult times. Recalling the awareness of vocation gives you a joy similar to Miriam’s. My call came while I was standing on the corner of Fifth Street in Struthers, in front of St. Nicholas Church. After that, I had experiences that nudged me to make the decision.
My ministry at two nursing homes in Columbiana calls me to search and listen to the deep reality within others. Some residents can tell you about their life but are not aware of the significance of their life. People suffering with Alzheimer’s present a different challenge. They lack words and memory.
My first weeks at St. Mary’s Alzheimer Center, I thought, “What can I possibly do to help?” Gradually, I learned ways of communicating. One woman whose speech made little sense was also known to be easily angered. She was crying and I hesitated to approach her, thinking she may lash out. But I asked what was wrong. She said one word. “Regret.” I paused, looked at her, and said, “Are you God?” That time she got in touch with her love for God and was comforted. She laughed. No more tears.
Right now I am challenged by what I see and experience. Part of me wants to say the needs are too great – there’s so much to do, and my feet hurt. But coming home each day leaves me hopeful. I am taught to remember the truth deep within, spend time in prayer and leave the mystery of call to God.
We often are overwhelmed and face huge obstacles. As followers of Christ, we know to wait, pray and pray and wait some more. Somehow something we say or do impacts others more than we realize.
A gentleman came to St. Mary’s and said he was taught by our Sister Gertrude many years ago. He admitted to giving her a hard time in class. Now he says he’s finding many of the things she said to him are helping him now.
When I see some of us slowing down and not seeing anyone enter the community, I feel a twinge of sadness. I don’t stay with that thought long because I, like you, have many experiences of reaching the wall of water at the Red Sea and seeing it open for us. I have learned, with your example, that God is letting something new evolve.
So grab your tambourine and dance! Let’s celebrate the mystery within us!