“Try! If you succeed, I will be in the front row clapping my hands off. If you fail, I will be sitting right at your side. You won’t be alone.” (Powell, pg. 91) This is a beautiful summary of how God has shown me unconditional love and encouragement, and He has challenged me to do the same with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Fr. Nouwen states that for the Kingdom of God’s love to be present in our lives implies two things: an invitation from God to an intimate relationship of love and a response to that love. With humanly love, there is always the risk of rejection and misunderstanding but I’ve learned not to shut myself off from the healing power of love and to accept the invitations – the opportunities to love Christ in others and in myself. My time here at the convent has been full of invitations to love and to be loved. Losing one of my sisters at the mall and processing all of the conflicting emotions, I was challenged to forgive and to love without condition. Through God-given grace and prayer, metanoia took place – a change of heart. I recognized metanoia in myself and in my sisters and breath-taking healing took place. I was also challenged at work by a client who was blind and autistic. Initially I avoided this client because I didn’t know how to help him or what to say. When I called upon God’s help, I felt called to just sit with the client and be Christ’s presence of love. Meeting with this client now, I feel so blessed to be there with him in silent reassurance. I recognize now that I’m the one sitting with Christ. ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:40)
My simple responses to God’s love through my brothers and sisters in Christ have paved the way to interior freedom. “When I want to be free at all costs, I am already beginning to bind myself. When I pursue my own wishes, I throw myself in chains. I can only find freedom in the ropes that bind me to You.” (Ulrich Schaffer) The focus is no longer on me but on the God who loves me and calls me to love as he loves. Fr. Powell ends Unconditional Love with the story of his student, Tommy. When Tommy asks him if he thinks he will ever find God, Father responds, “No! I don’t think you’ll ever find him, but I’m absolutely certain that he will find you!” God does indeed find Tommy at the perfect time and perfect way. As I’m growing in the virtues of kindness and openness, this story reminds me to not rely on my own plans and reasoning but rather ask God to widen the chalice of my soul so that His love can pour in – so He can find me and so I can more fully live out the “greatest science in the world” – LOVE.