Periodically, I review reflections, articles, and other pieces which I have written, hoping to avoid repeating myself in my current writings. I suspect, however, there is a bit of vanity in this desire not to subject readers to repetition. Vanity—because we all come out of a certain stance toward life which is bound to thread itself in and out of our communications with a kind of regularity and bearing the stamp of continuity.
That is not entirely a bad thing, but do not our individual lives include some unexpected moments which brighten up the usual pattern? These times, insignificant in themselves or even regarded as obstacles, can give brilliance to the dullness in our lives or spark our curiosity; most of them occur within the context of the most prosaic situations. In this regard, I recall an incident in my childhood which reverberates with me even today.
It was a warm summer evening and a friend and I were on our way to performing our usual after supper routine. We bicycled down to Jay Cooke park and then returned to our local drive-in for coke and potato chips. Enroute we had to stop at an intersection. Simultaneously, our parish priest drove up in his car and filled the short interval with a smile and then asked me, “What are you doing?”
An innocent enough question! However, in days to come it became a prod, sharpening the focus of my life. It made me aware of how I was trivializing my days: “Yes,” I said to myself, “…what am I doing? Am I going to spend the rest of my life performing this ritual? If not, what then”?
The question at the intersection had challenged me on the road of life. Though neither the priest’s intention nor the content of his words called for such a response, I was convinced it was one of God’s surprising ways of letting me know just how closely the Divine is intertwined in our situations in life. This ever-present care and concern gives color and richness to the NOW of life as well as to what is sometimes referred to as the “autumn of our lives.”
—Sister Mary E. Penrose, OSB
|Sister Mary E. Penrose is a Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. She edits readings for the liturgical Hours and writes reflections for the Community. And she is a tutor for the African Sisters attending The College of St. Scholastica. She was editor of a journal, Spirit & Life, for 18 years.|