Sunday, November 23, 2014

First Thoughts


    Five days before I entered as a postulant in St. Louis, one of my older sisters, Emma, got married. It was the first wedding in the family, and it was a beautiful day. I was so blessed to end my time with my family celebrating a joyous occasion. I had been away from home, living and working in New Jersey, so I truly relished the 2 weeks I had in California with family and friends. I was maid of honor so, as part of my duties, I gave a toast at the reception. Recently, I realized that my speech was meant as much for this new couple, entering the honeymoon stage of their marriage, as it war for me, entering a new chapter in my life and discernment process. 
      I wish I just had a digital copy of the toast to share with you - that would be so much easier, - but I guess I’ll try to remember it and relay to you the important parts. One of the readings at the wedding ceremony was the somewhat trite passage from Corinthians 13 on love. St. Paul’s treatise on love is absolutely beautiful and poignant, but tends to be overused to the point that I think most people have grown deaf ears to its true beauty and sense. We all have these verses memorized to some degree: “Love is patient. Love is kind...Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” This sounds so warm and quaint, but what I highlighted in my toast was that St. Paul never says love is easy. In fact, living in love is a difficult thing; it takes work and perseverance. Love is not just a happy feeling that comes over us and stays with us for eternity. True love calls us out of ourselves; it means sacrificing our selfish desires for the good of another. It is, indeed, strikingly beautiful but is certainly not all rainbows and butterflies. 

My sister and me at her wedding

    Since arriving in St. Louis two months ago, I have often thought back to my toast and how poignant those words, meant for the newly married couple, are in my own life. Love is not easy and in fact, it requires constant attention to keep fortifying, but it is worth chasing after. Love brought me here; it was love I was chasing when I applied to join the Daughters of St. Paul. Life here is not always easy. I am constantly challenged to let go of my selfish desires and be purified by Love. 

My brother in law and sister's reactions to my toast. Killed it! ;) 

     I am not a morning person, but my alarm continues to beckon me out of bed at 6 am everyday - yes, even Saturday. Living in community with such beautiful, faith-filled women is such a joy, but it also takes sacrifice to communicate well with one another and make sure everyone’s needs are being met. Giving up much of my financial freedom and the freedom to make my own schedule has challenged me. I can no longer purchase things on my credit card and then babysit on the weekends to pay it off. It can be frustrating at times, but at the bottom of everything, I am filled with peace and exceedingly joyful. Why? Because Love has followed me here. I was called by love to give up the life I was previously pursuing and come here, and I have not been disappointed. The Lord blesses our sacrifices, big and small, and loves us immensely through them. So, the next time I want to grumble about the latest thing I have to give up, I will try to remember these words spoken by Pope Francis: “Difficulties and trials are part of the path that leads to God’s glory, just as they were for Jesus, who was glorified on the cross; we will always encounter them in life! Do not be discouraged!” (4/28/13- Homily during Confirmation Mass at St. Peter’s). And for all those times that I do grumble, I thank God for his patience, his kindness, and his faithfulness in loving me through it all. 

The St. Louis community on the day I entered. 



2 comments:

Anonymous said...

You described Love beautifully

Elizabeth Dunbar said...

Thank you for the encouraging comment! God bless! :)