God speaks in my heart
As a teenager I thought I heard God telling me to try the religious life. Everyone said, Oh, no, that isn’t possible. No. Not you. I had obviously misunderstood God.
Over the years I heard God speak again, but I didn’t listen. I had a good job and a partner and a Buddhist meditation practice. The door was closed.
The partner died suddenly. The job died more slowly, but finally lost its meaning for me. The Buddhist practice remained, but opened wider until I saw that I could be both Christian and Buddhist at once.
And through that opening, God spoke to me again, and said, Now is the time. I said, But I’m too old. God said, You aren’t listening to me; I said, now is the time. I said, Oh. God said, Get with it. You’re wasting time.
And so at the age of 57 I joined the Community of St. Francis. I was received as a postulant in Sr. Ruth’s tiny apartment, with two huge dogs barking madly. I have never liked dogs. I said, God, this isn’t a good sign. God said, What do you know about signs?
Nothing seemed to go right, and I wanted to leave. God kept saying, No. Sit. Stay. So I stayed. I became a novice and got used to wearing the brown habit in public. Got used to other people’s comments, the friendly ones and the weird ones.
I thought I needed more silence and more prayer time than I was getting here. So I went and lived with the Clares for a while. They had silence, and cats, both of which were pluses, but I missed the soup kitchen where I worked, and the weekly antiwar vigil at the SF Federal building. I missed sermons, even the really boring ones.
So I said to God, what should I do? God said, It’s up to you. Stay here and do without things, or go back and try to build something new. Try to be a contemplative in the midst of action. Oh yikes, I thought, but I came back.
The sisters said, it’s time for you to make your vows. If you want to . . . I said to God, so do I want to? God said, what else do you want to do? I thought, well, when you put it that way . . .
So I said Yes, and made my vows. Thinking all the time, I don’t have the slightest idea what I’m doing or why I’m doing it, but that seems to be the point here. Do it, and see what comes next. God knows. And if I listen carefully, God speaks in my heart.