- ICCN Co-Directors
Journey to the Unknown….
Sr. Grace Ramos - Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange
This is a picture of my dog Baxter. He passed away a year ago (February 28, 2022). He loved playing fetch and was very patient with kids. He didn’t even bark until I asked him to speak. Baxter saved my mom’s life one day when she forgot to turn off the stove and fell asleep. Baxter jumped on her chest and woke her up. He was very loving and gentle. I had so many ups and down in life and Baxter was there with me, my faithful companion. He had a lot of health issues towards the end of his life. He was blind and trusted me every time I took him out for hiking or even when I moved his bed into different parts of the house. Baxter was my companion for 17 years; he was my loyal friend. Lately, my discernment to religious life has had its challenges and I have felt like I was all over the place, but upon my reflections about my dog taught me how to be steady and be patient as I unwrapped God’s mysteries in my life. I remember how patient he was to wait for me to get home, for his food, to play and to be taken out.
Sometimes I feel that I need to figure out God’s will instead of just living in dependence on Him and letting His Spirit guide my way. This time of Novitiate is my time with God and this sacred time is the time I am getting to know more about myself. It’s funny because I have discovered many things about me that I didn’t even know I could do. A lot of my classes have made me more self-aware and discover my gifts. It is not easy to know my own weaknesses and challenges, but I have the help from my spiritual director, counselor and my novice directors. They help me understand myself more and bring out the best in me which is being true to myself and who I am. They have provided a space and time for me to see, discern and discover myself.
I have been reflecting on the book Stay by Dave Burchett. My friend highly recommended this book after I lost Baxter. The book is an eye opener to see how God approaches in me many ways. God desires that I simply need to be present with Him and see Him through all His creations. Here are some of my favorite lines in the book:
“The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groaning that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:26-28).“Not for ourselves but for the whole world were we born.” Sr. Madeliva, CSJ’s artwork caught my attention since the first time I saw it. I was struck by it. If I want to do God’s will, I need to be fully true to myself and long for my deepest desire which is to serve my neighbors. God’s call in my life is mysterious, and I will listen, hear it, take it inside and take it in my heart.
I believe that what I need is God’s grace and that gives me freedom to live, to trust and be patient like my dog Baxter. I will continue to discover myself through this discernment and dive into my mystic journey with God. What seems to be happening now is that all will be well because He is always with me on every step of my journey to the unknown….
At the end of this reflections and time in prayers, I realized that what I need to do is to loose myself, to be what God wants me to be, and trust him with my all..
I would like to share with you my favorite prayer during this time.
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
– Thomas Merton