Every year, a cycle of radical busyness invades my life. I brace for it and always persevere. Strategy is embedded in the pages of my calendar and I make defensive moves to try to protect time for silence, creativity, fun and rest in addition to ever-present action. It is easy to be consumed by all of the good things ministry and life offer.
Perhaps it is divine providence that, just as I am experiencing this annual tug of war with my calendar, Martha and Mary arise in the Gospel reading (Luke 10:38-42). Recall for a moment the familiar story: Martha is busy and Mary appears idle. Mary is praised while Martha is chided. I don’t know about you, but this story has played itself out dozens of times in my life. The script for me goes something like this: I am running around from place to place accomplishing what I see are priorities while so-and-so puts up her feet and relaxes, appearing not to have a care in the world. Jealousy wins, I lose, and the scenario frequently repeats itself. Yet there are times when I’m like Mary and choose to slow down, spend time in contemplation, while someone else is running around looking at me as Martha surely did.
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The challenge is integration of both active life and of contemplative life. This happens for me when I’m working on something and I realize I need a break to refocus, or when I’m praying in Mary of the Angels Chapel and a new idea will suddenly occur to me.
Discernment of religious life takes balance too. Discernment in action — gathering information, visiting communities and meeting with sisters — takes (and should take) a considerable amount of time and can feel like the most important part of the journey. But discernment in contemplation — praying for wisdom and direction, asking yourself what you are most searching for — is equally essential. It takes (and should take) ample time to sit in contemplation and consider what is in front of you.
This week I invite you to ponder… are both action and contemplation present as you think about your decision?
Are you balancing these essential components for the discernment of religious life in your calendar?
*Do you know someone experiencing discernment of religious life? We invite you to share this link, www.fspa.org/showmeasign, and join the conversation.