Why would anyone say “yes” to beginning a discernment process toward vowed religious life when in her late 40s and early 50s? I have been asked some form of that question numerous times. There is one answer for me: The inner stirring was too great to ignore. The “chase” [by God] in The Hound of Heaven, a 19th century poem by Francis Thompson, has become a metaphor for my journey into religious life. There was pursuit, surrender, and a “yes” – actually, many yeses.
Discerning religious life in your fifties is definitely not for the faint-hearted. Separately and together, the Congregation and I took the time we needed for good questions, honest conversations, and much reflection to determine if this would be a good fit. There is a lot to let go of when you’re my age, including a few possessions (like my dog!) to which I had become attached. I also chose to let go of exclusive relationships and things that symbolize individual success and buying power. These are just a few. I have however, become a member of a large family, learning more every day about “community of goods” and shared responsibility for the good of the whole. I have chosen to combine my energy with women who are also committed to reflecting God’s presence in the world.
Learning to live interdependently continues to be a challenge. It’s comforting to know that the process of becoming Dominican is a life-long one. The Spirit still stirs within and the persistent voice of God remains a companion. Is the call to religious life also stirring deeply within you?
Sr. Tanya Williams, OP