The following is an article that I wrote under my pen name “Irina Demkiw” and it was published in “Progress” (a bi-weekly Ukrainian community newspaper) under a column title of “Shedding Light,” and on my irinademkiw.wordpress.com blog site on October 16, 2011. This is the second part of “Learning and Discerning Vocations Baby Steps.”
Learning and Discerning Vocations II
Whatever I had received during Lent by attending church daily (or almost daily) left me with a longing for more. I felt satisfied that I had completed the days of Lent coming to church with my new found young friends. I was no longer working at making room for God. After Bright Week, I felt that something was missing. It was not an in-your-face experience but a cooling from a warmth that I had felt during Lent. I was not sure what it meant. I was not sure how to gain back the warmth that I enjoyed since I was not attending daily church services. I was slowly being distracted back to the patterns of my life before Lent. Only when I was alone did I turn my thoughts to Jesus. Saying His name stirred something within me.
I had heard a story about a young priest and an old woman who showed up at church every day. The woman would come and go every day. She often sat alone in the church. She never approached the priest. The priest was curious as to why she would come every day and sometimes just sit alone in the church. Finally, the priest decided that he wanted to know who she was and what she was about. He came to her and sat beside her. She looked at him quickly and turned her head back to the iconostas. The young priest spoke to her, “Welcome to our beautiful church!” The woman seemed shy and struggled to look at him. After a moment of silence between them she spoke, “Thank you Father!” Again, there was this long silence between them. Father decided to ask her straight up why she was here every day. “I am the pastor and I welcome you. I would very much appreciate it if you would tell me why you come every day and sometimes sit alone in the church.” She smiled a big smile, with her eyes filling and said, “I want God to know my face so that he recognizes me when I die and leave this earth.” The pastor smiled back at her and patted her hand. He stood getting ready to leave her and spoke saying, “I am sure that God knows your face very well and is pleased.” They both nodded at each other. The pastor left the old woman in church to attend to his many duties in the parish office. The old woman continued to sit alone in the church.
When I heard this story, many thoughts came flooding. I loved the message of God recognizing my face because I took time to be with Him. I was not sure if I needed to be in a church every day so that God and I would get to know each other’s faces. I knew some prayers and at bedtime I began to add little prayers sometimes. Instead of my usual “Thank you God for… (naming the best parts of my day)” I found that I was praying for others. I felt a warmth growing within me.
I found myself talking to Jesus when I was walking to the bus stop, when I was waiting in the grocery line, when I was taking a shower, when I was hungry or lonely or angry, when I was buying a new dress, and so on. I liked to talk to Jesus. I felt His Presence sometimes. I felt safe.
My mother said to me one day, “You should be listening to what God wants you to do with your life.” I asked her, “What do you mean?” She said, “You should be asking God if you are supposed to be a religious, or a wife, or a dedicated single person in your life.” Those words surprised me. My mother often spoke to me about God only to remind me to “Go to church!” and “Don’t forget your night prayers!” This message was different. For days I dwelt on those words. The thoughts that came to me were “I do not know how to hear God.” “How do I hear God?” “How will I know that it is God speaking?” I sat with the questions for many weeks. One day I had a sense to ask God whether I should go to a movie that many people were flocking to see. After I had sat in a quiet space for a while, I asked the question. I did not hear words, but in my “gut” I felt a happy feeling, a peace. I said to God that because I had the “gut” sense of “It is okay to go to the movie” I would go with my friends. A week or two later, a dance was coming up and everyone I knew was going. I wanted to go so much. I was picking up on their excitement in the planning of the event. I had a sense to ask God if He wanted me to go the dance. After sitting and listening, I had a tight, sad feeling in my gut/middle. I was surprised. This sad sense in my middle seemed to me that God did not want me to go. I told God that I would not go to the dance because I felt that He said so. It was hard to make that decision. Later, I learned from my father that he would not have allowed me to go the dance because it was taking place during Lent. Whoa! This news fitted in with what I sensed when I asked God if I should go to the dance. This was a learning curve.
I had found something important for me. I found that I was learning how to hear God. Most of my life had been my speaking to God, or rather telling God what I wanted or needed. This new growing communication with God was quiet, subtle, and feeling like I wanted more.
Copyright © 2011 Irina Demkiw, all rights reserved.
Copyright © 2014 Gloria Winn, all rights reserved.