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I am fascinated with the brains of scientist and inventors. What keeps them in the lab testing and retesting and searching for the answers they long for? How do they resist boredom? How do they deal with feelings of failure? How does their determination lead them to take risks that most others would not even consider, all in the name of research? Do they draw a line in the sand?
What I am certain about science, however, is that such curiosity can spark new ideas, leads to life-changing discovery. Revelation begins with a single question that evolves along the way by:
- Experimenting, testing new theories.
- Recording findings.
- Looking for patterns.
- Observing discrepancies in the data.
- Consulting experts.
- Making adjustments along the way.
- Celebrating both achievements and failures as pathways to learning.
Discovery requires participation. Every observation calls for attention. Deep reflection is vital. Evolution of the question contains markers of change and integration of learning. Each reflection has the potential to reveal a new hypothesis to be explored.
I also know, from personal, life-changing curiosity, that such questions and methods and principles can guide you through discernment of religious life.
What may seem to be a naive question must really be the first: “What is religious life?” It is, as I’ve written about before, a culture all its own.
With learning and reflection, do you feel a calling?
In time, you may find yourself wondering “What could religious life be like with a specific community?” Living into that question will change as you go deeper into the discernment process. If accepted into a community the question could become “What is religious life for us as communally?” Throughout the years of incorporation the ultimate ask may surface: “Am I willing to make a life commitment to God as a vowed religious sister and in the context of this congregation?”
Try to take in your wonderings one at a time. Choose carefully how often to sit with them: daily, weekly or monthly time periods of reflection may continually stoke your excitement. How will your record your learnings along the way: a journal, a log, maybe even a spread sheet? It’s important not to lose insight you find along your quest.
Each new year, just like each scientific hypothesis, begins with the potential to evolve into a lifetime of implications.
In 2018, what are the questions that could lead you on a year of discovery?
*Do you know someone experiencing discernment of religious life? We invite you to share this link, www.fspa.org/showmeasign, and join the conversation.