Sunday, May 15, 2011

Coincidence? I think not.

I read somewhere “a coincidence is just God's way of performing a miracle anonymously” I then posted it on my FB because it just seemed to fit perfectly in my discernment journey.

For the record, this has always bothered me
about alien movies...
(And no, this isn't the same type of coincidence
I'm talking about)
June Council, where the Daughters decide on my case, is only 18 days away. And I can't help but reflect on what's led me to here because, a year ago, I would have never imagined myself here.

So what has led me here? 

Coincidences.

I'm completely serious. I've known the Daughters since 2004, but since I went to college in the same town as their Provincial House, that's really no coincidence. The coincidences would happen much later. A year after finishing college, I entered a Salesian community (I won't say their name so they keep their privacy but they were a member of the Salesian family) About a month in, I started to feel as if maybe I had made a mistake. I started having major doubts. As I scribbled these feelings down furiously in my journal, I wrote once “Maybe this isn't for me. Maybe this aspirancy is actually preparation for another. Maybe I should join the Daughters of Charity. I've always liked them” But I stayed and continued to deal with these rough feelings of doubt and confusion.

A few months after writing that sentence in my journal, I met a Daughter of Charity...almost completely by accident. Us aspirants mainly stayed in the convent and the only other Sisters outside of our community that we would meet would be other Sisters in the Salesian family. But Sr. Mary Elko, a Daughter of Charity, just showed up at the door of the convent one day to drop off two girls for the orphanage but also visit with the Sisters. At first, I wondered what community she was from - her beige (missionary) habit threw me off because all Daughters I knew wore blue. But soon, once she told me she was a Daughter of Charity, we had long enthusiastic conversations about Emmitsburg and Sisters we maybe both knew.

Looking back, it just seems like a coincidence that Sr Mary Elko would show up at our door, precisely at the rough time of my vocation crisis, as I had fleeting thoughts about joining her community.

The other coincidence would be years later. After leaving the aspirancy, thoughts of being a religious came and went again and again. As I lived in Bolivia for another year, thoughts of being a religious would come back every now and then, never quite leaving me alone. I never saw Sr Mary Elko again simply because life was too busy to do so. I moved back to the United States after two years of living in Bolivia. It wasn't until I visited Bolivia a year later after the move, this past summer, that the second big coincidence happened.

After coming back from my visit, I felt an immense tug to start investigating religious life again. I knew I couldn't ignore it anymore. And, even though I hadn't talked to them in years, I knew I had to get in contact with the Daughters of Charity. I had no desire to contact any other community. I'm not ashamed to admit that I was scared to because I had no idea how they would react to me formerly being an aspirant of another community. Problem is so many years had passed that I had no idea who the vocation director was. So I, who throws nothing away, searched my Gmail and found an email from Sr. Denise, introducing herself as the new vocation director. An email from 2007. And this was July 2010. But I thought “well, why not?” so I replied to it.

Not only was Sr. Denise shocked that I had replied to an email from 2007 but she shared with me that I had perfect timing...because, for the past year, she had been in Chicago studying...and she had literally just now returned to vocation work. (On another note, we later found out that Sr Denise was actually one of the first Daughters I ever met...she was one of the Sisters on my first discernment retreat) And that is where the story that led me to applying for pre-postulancy begins - visits to different houses, retreats,  etc. 

I often wonder that if Sr. Denise were no longer the vocation director, would I have had the guts to "try again" and email whoever was the current vocations director? 
If I hadn't met Sr Mary Elko in Bolivia, would I still have been haunted by the thought of being a Daughter of Charity or would I have eventually forgotten about it?

I like to think that these "coincidences" were actually God working "anonymously", showing His immense love by trying to lead me to find His will for me, find my ultimate joy and where I'm free to be myself, where I'm meant to be. 

Obviously, some coincidences are just unimportant coincidences, but I invite to look back in your life and reflect..."which coincidences were actually God working anonymously for me?" And I'm sure you'll find more than a few.

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