A Reflection on “Harriett” and Its Message for Us Today

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

Earlier this week, the daily Gospel came from Luke 17:1-6.  The apostles asked Jesus to “strengthen their faith.”  Jesus responded by saying, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”  As I pondered Jesus’ words about “faith,” I thought about the movie “Harriet,” which I had just seen (for the second time) the day before.  The movie tells the story of Harriet Tubman, the most noted “Conductor” of the Underground Railroad. Harriet escaped slavery herself, then returned to guide hundreds more slaves to freedom. It was a, seemingly, impossible task for an illiterate slave woman who had only the stars and her faith in God to guide her.

The Hollywood production, as movies usually do, took dramatic liberties in sharing Harriet’s story. But they got the basic events and the guiding focus of her story right. Harriet was depicted as a small but strong Black woman whose faith and experience of God in her life led her down a path that she never expected and one that she could never have accomplished on her own. Once Harriet discerned the plan, her faith and experience of God enabled her to carry it through.  The thread that connects Harriett’s story to a conversation highlighting vocation and formation in religious life—is faith. Her story highlights a kind of faith that trusts, listens, and responds to the Spirit of God within us even when we cannot clearly see the path ahead.

Whether one is beginning to discern a call to religious life, is in some stage of religious formation or has been a Sister for a number of years, the foundation of the call is faith.  It is a faith that reflects an openness to trusting, listening, and responding to the God that dwells in each of us. The “yes” of our response to religious life or any life that is lived based on one’s faith in God carries a responsibility. It is the responsibility to love and respect the dignity of all people.  A life based on faith tries to discern how God is calling you to use your gifts to address the needs in the world around you.  Living by our faith is not an easy task.  Yet, I am convinced that the problems and divisions that we face today can only be overcome if people of faith and goodwill stand together—trusting, listening, and responding to our God who lives in each of us.

The movie “Harriet” was inspiring to me on many levels, especially regarding the power of faith.  It ended with the stirring song, “Stand Up,” which I invite you to listen to and to view a clip from the movie.  While the song was written with the mission of Harriet Tubman in mind, I think part of it reveals a more universal theme that can inspire us today.  The song’s refrain says “I’m going to stand up. Take my people with me. Together, we are going to a brand new home.”  As I reflected on these words, in light of our world today, these personal questions surfaced for me: “In light of my own faith, who am I being called to “stand up” for with my voice, with my actions, with my pen or my vote?  And who am I “taking with me” to a better place of justice and freedom?” In fact, I would invite each of us to ponder these questions for ourselves.  In today’s world, the choices are many and the ways to stand up for change are varied and plentiful. So the question becomes, “How is my faith calling me to respond or stand up!”

Perhaps you are being called to respond to God’s call as a Sister?   Call us, we can help.


Patricia Dual, OP

Posted in God Calling?, News

9 responses to “A Reflection on “Harriett” and Its Message for Us Today

  1. Thanks Sr Pat for a powerful reflection on faith. I haven’t seen the movie ‘Harriet’, but I hope I will get the opportunity of seeing it some day. Blessings and prayers as you continue to Praise, Bless and Preach.

  2. Thanks Pat, for this blog. I definitely am looking forward to going to see the movie. Your focus questions on faith are great.

  3. Thank you Pat for your powerful reflection. I relished the movie of this gracefilled leader. Harriet’s restored home in Auburn, NY and the nearby cemetery where she is buried is just about 2 1/2hours West of our Retreat Center in Niskayuna, NY. To walk the land where she once lived as a free woman is a humbling and inspiring experience.

  4. Thank you for your inspiring reflection on Faith and our call to “stand up” for all. I hope to see the movie soon.

  5. Thank you for your powerful and inspiring blog, Sr Pat. I especially like your reflection questions at the end, and I hope to see the movie soon.

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