A quick and easy answer to this all important question, “What leads me to God?” might be, “Everything!” That answer bears much truth in it. Plunging more deeply, however, reveals places and happenings, situations and persons who bring God front and center into my life. It could be a beautiful tree, an imposing mountain, a peaceful, winding river, the discovery of a poem, a passage from Scripture, being alert and finding God wherever the divine may be waiting for me. Places would be where Eucharist dwells and where I sit to pray. The places where I find the beauties of nature bring God right to me. A fragile flower, a singing bird, a lovely cloud call out the Creator’s name.
Happenings and situations that lead me to God are many fold: times when I
realize my brokenness and sin where I need God to forgive and heal me, times of intense gratitude, times of deep tragedy or overwhelming grief. I find this latter reality in our everyday lives is unable to be sustained unless there is a clinging to God. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and died five weeks later. I thought I would die of grief. I was in a car accident on the journey to my father’s funeral and could not attend; my brother’s youngest child, an only son, was killed in an auto accident at nineteen. These were terrible moments in my life, my family’s life. I clung to God for sanity and relief.
A moment when I always know God is there is finding a word or phrase in
Scripture which I have heard numerous times in my long life and yet, at a certain reading, it jumps out alive and real. And God is there.
The persons who lead me to God are those who walk around in my everyday life as well as those who come as a surprise. I know that some of the friends I see often are God’s presence in my life, there is no doubt in my mind. In addition, a card from a long ago friend, a surprise call from a beloved cousin or an unexpected act of kindness from a stranger lead me to know that God is present with them, and with me. When I see on a newscast that a person, not necessarily famous, has acted in a noble and unselfish manner, I say in my heart, “Thank You, God.” When I see our SCN Community living out its mission, despite diminishment, I say, “Thank You, God, for the graces of now and all the dear women who have gone before us.”
God has blessed me in so many ways, far more than I could ever deserve. My
whole life can rightly be a thank you prayer.
“I clung to God for sanity and relief .”
Now I share with you two short poems from gifted Emily Dickinson and how I find God’s message there:
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.
And sweetest in the gale is heard
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chilliest land
And in the strangest sea
Yet never, in extremity
It asked a crumb of me.
After reading the poem, I reflect:
In what ways have I seen God’s care of me in the, “Hope that never stops at all?”
How did I return to a hopeful life stance after being diminished by pain or
Have I experienced God’s giving to me and “Yet never, in extremity,” asked
nothing in return?
To fight aloud is very brave
But gallanter I know
Who charge within the bosom,
The cavalry of woe.
Who win, and nations do not see,
Who fall, and none observe,
Whose dying eyes no country
Regards with patriot love.
We trust, in plumed procession,
For such the angels go,
Rank after rank, with even feet
And uniforms of snow.
After reading the poem, I reflect:
Do I keep silent about painful happenings in my life?
How does God help me to cope with the hurt I hold in my heart?
What about the interior battles God helps me to win and no one knows? What
about the times I falter “and none observe?”
Does it matter that “no dying eyes …regards with …love?”
How do these poems speak to you of God’s presence?
Maria Vincent Brocato, SCN, from Clarksdale, Mississippi, entered the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth in 1948. With a BA from Spalding University and an MA from Fordham University, she devoted her early ministries to the field of education. She served the SCN Congregation as Formation Director, as Provincial of the Southern Province and as President of the Congregation. For five years she was Vice President of Mission for the SCN Health Corporation, and in Mississippi, served as Assistant and then Executive
Director of Sacred Heart Southern Missions. SCN Community history has been a special interest, for which she has written reflections on the lives of SCN women and co-authored, with Mary Ellen Doyle, SCN, the book Impelled by the love of Christ: Sisters of Charity of Nazarth Kentucky 1948-1960. Her hobbies include Italian cooking, gardening and quilting.