As I write this, the Cardinals are meeting in the Vatican to choose our next Pope. They are attempting to discern who the Holy Spirit is telling them for whom to vote. I’ve been thinking a lot about discernment myself. I’ve been in a bit of a holding pattern in my own attempt to hear what the Holy Spirit is telling me about where I should put the passions and energies in my life. I’ve decided to work with a Spiritual Director, and I’m looking forward with some excitement, some anxiety, some trepidation to meeting with him/her.
I guess I thought that hearing the Word of God would be more concrete. I would think that if God had a specific man to whom He thought it best to whom we should hand down the keys to the kingdom, the Holy Spirit would tell all of the Cardinals the same name to write down, and it would be a one-vote Conclave. And I figured that God could just tell me, “Linda, this is what I want you to do.” But, apparently it doesn’t work that way. God works with us. He doesn’t demand of us a specific action. He lets us decide for ourselves.
Maybe there isn’t one right answer. Maybe the next Pope could be Cardinal X or Cardinal Y or even Cardinal Q, and the Church would be fine no matter which of them was chosen. Many of us Catholics feel that the Church is at a crossroads – that it’s definitely time to put an end to the sexual abuse scandal, that it’s time to ferret out the evil within our institution, that it’s time to heal our Church among the faithful, and that it’s time to clean up its image to those who are not of our belief. But the Cardinals may make a choice that neither takes us to the left or to the right. They may choose a man who keeps us on the same path. None of us knows all the details of the issues with which the leaders of our Church are contending, but most of us are frustrated with the protracted nature of fixing (or not fixing) the problems we do know about.
The same thing could happen with me. Even though I’m trying to more and more turn my life over to God, it doesn’t necessarily mean that my path is supposed to take a radical turn in either direction. Maybe there isn’t one right answer for me. Maybe there isn’t one grand mission for me to fulfill during the course of my time on earth. Maybe there isn’t one clear way for the Church to move forward.
Maybe there’s more than one right answer.
I read a quote last week that won’t budge from my mind. “We don’t see things as they are; we see things as we are.” Anais Nin wrote these words in the last century.
He had it right. All I can do is hope and pray that the Cardinals are open to hearing what God is saying, and that I can be in a place to hear things as they are, so that I can be open to discerning who I can become.
One thing is certain. There will be change. Hopefully it will be for the better. Hopefully it will move us forward to a path of progress and healing. Hopefully the light of Christ will shine down on our Church and in my own life.
I heard that today in Rome it’s pouring…