We have a wind chime hanging outside our living room window which makes rich, calming bell sounds when the wind blows strong enough. As I sat outside noticing when the chimes sounded, I couldn’t help but see the similarity between the wind and the chimes and God and the questions that come up during one’s discernment process.
Sometimes, the wind is calm or nothing more than a slight breeze. Though the chimes may move and sway to it, it’s not enough for the bells to make any sound. It reminds me of those times when we know the presence of God is always there but we can go about our lives regularly and not feel or hear the discernment questions in ourselves as strongly. But then, the winds could get stronger and we definitely hear them – those rich, strong bell melodies. God seems to be calling our attention to what is chiming within us. I would like to think that God plays these beautiful sounds of the call within to get our attention in a calming, assuring way. But sometimes, the wind can get stronger and the sounds louder and more persistent. That’s when we know it’s time to listen.
When I was in my earliest stages of discernment, I was terrified of asking, “What if I WAS called to be a Sister of Charity?” A slew of more questions would come to me and it was so tempting to run away from them. When I was in novitiate and discerning first vows, I was afraid to ask, “What if I WASN’T called?” During both these times, it was important to trust that questions are a deep and essential part of the process of discernment. Though the questions that come could initially give anxiety and uncertainty, letting them arise within us, just like those bell chimes, could lead to better listening and a sense of integrity and peace in our discernment. What could follow if we don’t resist the questions, is a slowing down and a gentling presence within. It takes courage but welcoming the questions is welcoming all that comes with them – the uncertainty but also the clarity.
Rainer Maria Rilke’s quote, quite often used and printed by different writers and speakers, is still worth mentioning here. “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. ... And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
Listen to God chiming within you. Let the rich sounds of your questions bring forth the tenderness, love and clarity of your call.