“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” (Mary Oliver) (I checked the poem … this is correct.)
What’s your answer? Stop and think about it for a minute….
This is not an easy question to answer. But by reflecting on this question, really reflecting on it and answering it, you can set out on the path God is calling you to take.
When I was ten years old, I saw my older cousin, who was in her thirties, parking her bicycle. I wondered, “What will it be like for me when I am her age? How would I feel, knowing I’ve lived 1/3 or ½ half of my life?” I didn’t want to waste my time wondering, I wanted to KNOW how to live my best life. That was a significant concern for me through my 20s and 30s.
To be honest, my life seemed gentle and blessed. I was surrounded by love, care, and protection from family and friends. However, in some ways, I still felt the yearning to really know and embrace what I should plan for my “one wild precious life.”
As a busy student, I did not have much time to discern what God might be calling me to. Yet, this sense of being called kept showing up inside me, sometimes loudly and sometimes like a whisper. At the same time, I had a growing sense of God’s love for me, which drew me into the heart of God and invited me to devote my whole life to God. I was not sure what to do and with each year, I became more anxious to know the plan for my life.
I began to have many questions – and they all started with the words “what if.” What if the call was not really from God, but from my own imagination? If it is from God, what if I am not qualified for this call? What if I fail to follow that call all of my life? What if I follow this call? Will I be able to pursue my career in medicine? The more “what if’s,” the more uncertainties I saw in front of me. These uncertainties just made me more restless and uncertain.
Later, I realized that if I didn’t take action, I would never answer my many “what if” questions. I had to enter into discernment with my whole being in order to find the answers to these questions. A very wise sister encouraged me, saying, “If you don’t start, it will never happen.” So, I began contacting religious congregations and being more intentional in my spiritual life. Having realized that I had wasted a lot of time with my “what if” questions, I had to start moving forward.
Serious discernment requires attentiveness, openness, searching, reflection, and letting go. But it is all worth it. In the discernment process, with the help of wise mentors, I got to know myself more fully, to understand and meet God from different angles, and to learn how we discern and help meet the needs of our time. It helped me to finally begin to see how I was being called to live my “one wild and precious life.” It all began to make sense. I could, with peace, give all of my questions to God, and to trust in God’s plan.
If you are searching for what to “with your one wild and precious life,” the Dominican Sisters of Peace has many discernment programs to help your search. We also have a Come and See discernment retreat September 23-25 that you can attend either in person or via Zoom. Click here to learn more about it and to register.