Bittersweet spoiling or God’s call as a disciple to Love?
One afternoon I was talking with a Religious order priest about some of the blessings and difficulties of religious life. One phrase from our discussion that stayed with me was “as religious we are spoiled by people.” The first thing that comes to mind for most people would be the receiving of special attention, material possessions, expected respect or the status of titles. This is not what came to my mind. The spoiling I am thinking of is the many opportunities as a religious sister/brother we have to encounter the beautiful people of God. I have been blessed to see the richness of God’s love in people. I have come across lay people who live out God’s discipleship in beautiful ways. I have met people I would not otherwise have an occasion to meet. I have met women in a county jail, women struggling in poverty with children, people with language barriers trying to provide for their families, people who grapple with loneliness and depression and those who are wealthy who lack love. There is sacredness when others invite me to meet them in their brokenness, loss and struggles. It is another blessing to meet those who mirror God’s love. One of the gifts of a religious sister is the freedom to love many. This is not negating the love of lay people or those in the vocation of marriage. The freedom I am speaking of is the freedom from attachment which goes back to my vow of celibacy as a religious. I am called to live and proclaim the Gospel, love and form relationships. I am called to be non-exclusive and this is not without cost. I hold close to my heart those I have had to leave over the last few years, the homeless, the children, the women and the cost is inevitable. I love and form relationships knowing full well a time will come when you will move on and do the same thing again, somewhere else. And so I continue to love and form relationships where I am now. As a religious I have to ask myself am I spoiled by the sweetness of loving and encountering God’s people or is this simply living my call as a disciple to Love?