A pull, then a tug, towards the “open door”

by Sr Anne Brittain

It is possible for me, at this stage, to look back at what a very precious gift life is.

Now, my sense of gratitude is continuing to grow. But honesty demands the admission that it was not always gratitude that filled my heart in younger years.

My sense of gratitude is continuing to grow

So where can I start? A thread that can be traced back into childhood has led me to this place. It can be described first as a gentle pull and then, really, as a tug.

In our family, work, in the sense of a life-time, well-paid and secure career, held secondary place to each one’s unique path, being allowed to open up and not forced. Religious life did represent a life-giving option, because we knew some good models, were regular church-goers and our upbringing led us to a sense of a transcendent God, mysterious, enticing and always there. But I felt drawn to the more usual and obvious way of relationship, through marriage. Open to “finding the right one,” I seemed to be led down a few blind alleys that constantly disappointed me and left me with questions, mostly directed at God. Since I met the most viable, but unavailable, partner when I responded as a missionary volunteer, it seemed to me that God was either a great joker, mean, or in some sense “calling me” to consider a religious vocation; actually, this sense of deeper meaning, commitment to God, and community had been around for a while but I did not want it!

God was “calling me” to consider a religious vocation

A few indicators led me along, such as this throw-away comment by one of the NDS sisters. When I was seriously considering following up university and scholarship opportunities, she said, “We don’t always get what we are searching for through study.”

It was this wisdom and an image of the “open door” that enabled me to reflect on and move towards consecrated life. The question that would not leave me at that time was, “Am I open to a call to religious life?”

NDS was the congregation I knew, and I never considered another. BUT when I entered in 1980 it was with a sense that I would try. Within me there lurked a resentment against this God, whom I had hoped would have led me on a different path.

The essence is hidden, but revealed through living each day

So, thirty-eight years on, twenty-six of which have been lived in the Philippines, I am filled with gratitude for this call, this thread, connecting me to the living God; for the life-changing opportunities I have had, and the joys I continue to experience. It is hard to put into words because the essence is hidden, revealed only through living each day just in the “now” of God’s grace and the small responses that I can make in the world.