Pieces Falling TogetherJune 4th, 2013
You know, it really is wild how God puts together the pieces and people of our lives, to form some kind of cohesive whole. Truly awesome!
Recently I was honored as one of the recipients of the 2013 diocesan Dorothy Stang awards. How cool that it should have been presented at her home parish, St. Rita of Cascia in Dayton. What an immensely humbling experience, and one which has led to a great deal of reflection on the divine assembling of pieces and people.
Like teachers! Forty years ago I first met my spitfire of a French teacher at Carroll High, Sister Mary Jean. Sister not only introduced me to the beautiful language I’ve loved since, but also inadvertently introduced me to my life’s vocation of sustainable living. She got me linked to Maryknoll magazine, and I well remember her words: “Now you will learn how most of the world lives.”
And did I ever! I was struck to the heart by the stories of the villagers with whom the missionaries worked. I was shocked at the realization that simply because I was born in the U.S.A. to a white, middle-class, educated family, my life would always be incredibly easier than that of any Third World woman. What did it mean, I wondered, that this was the case, that I should be so blessed? What was I to do with that?
So at the age of fourteen I pledged to live in a way that tried to alleviate some of the hardships suffered by less fortunate areas of the world. Today we would call that “living in solidarity.” In the 1980s it was just pretty weird. But, I resolved to learn to do for myself, to go without, to live simply and close to the earth, to consume fewer resources in hopes that more might be available to these others.
Pieces like spouses! Obviously it was divinely planned I would meet my future husband, Larry, that first class, first day of freshman year at U.D. How many other guys would have had a clue? But he did, and after our marriage we began to live our now joint pledge in earnest.
Like friends! Some fifteen years later, after volunteer involvement with Catholic Social Service, starting God’s Garden, and teaching environmental education for the Scouts I met Leanne Jablonski, FMI (now of MEEC) who encouraged me to reflect theologically upon our family’s lifestyle commitment. Connecting with others interested in faith-based creation care eventually led me to graduate degrees in theology.
And role models…. how cool now to realize that the first activity I led as the regional Adult Faith Director was a book study….on a biography of Sister Dorothy! I am sure what that amazing woman would most want us to remember is that she was simply focused on doing what God asked, day in and day out, out of love for God and the people. Despite heartbreaks, struggles, when others understood and when they did not, she persevered, she listened, followed and trusted God to put together the pieces. Isn’t this the call to each of us, also?
How truly awesome we should have such role models in our Church. How absolutely humbling to be considered anything slightly close.