By Sister Carlette Gentle, SCN
“Jesus take the wheel. Take it from my hands, cause I can’t do this on my own. I’m letting go so give me one more chance to save me from this road I’m on. Jesus take the wheel.” This is the chorus from Carrie Underwood’s song, “Jesus Take the Wheel”. That’s exactly how I feel as a young religious today. God called me to this beautiful life and when that happened, I was no longer in control. I let go of the wheel and Jesus took hold of it.
This journey in religious life is one I think about every day. It is really not the norm to become a religious in today’s world. “Are you crazy?” “What, a nun?” “You mean you don’t want to have children and a family?” And of course, the famous “Don’t you want to have sex?” These remarks and questions are just a few of what is thrown at me when people find out that I am a Sister. I myself sit and wonder sometimes, “Why did I choose this life?” The quote from Joan Chittister comes to mind, “Once we realize that we are surrounded by fragments of the Divine, life becomes luminous.” That is indeed what I feel when I am surrounded by our Sisters. They add so much joy and light to my life that they allow me to see who I am, to share my gifts and talents, and they shone a light in my heart that made me see the needs of the world, but not just that. They taught me by example and action how to serve with compassion and genuineness. They showed me how to see the human within, despite their outer appearance and most importantly, they showed me to see God in each and every single individual.
So why do I continue to choose religious life? Because, I feel complete when I am with our Sisters. They make me have a zeal for life; a feeling that makes me smile and say this is where I belong. The little things that my community members do help me on my journey in religious life. Sending little letters of support and prayers, having an interest in what I do and how I am, encouraging me to be “ME”, working with me to enhance my gifts and talents, and most importantly, encouraging words here and there, are gestures which motivate me to stay on my journey. I am glad to say my community does this well, and in turn, it helps me to stay committed and continue to choose religious life.
Hope, this little word encompasses so much for me. H – Heart, O – Opportunities, P Perseverance and E – Energy, is what hope means to me. I need all of this to be on this journey. First of all, my heart has to be in it, and it definitely is. Secondly, this life brings forth opportunities of growth and new insight. Since religious life is not the norm, many people see it odd to even think about becoming a Sister. I choose to persevere despite what the majority of the world might think. And last of all energy. Vigor, which adds liveliness and energy to what the community already has, is needed on this journey.
Having hope allows me to bring light to darkness. Some people look at religious life as heading towards darkness since we don’t have new members coming in by the hundreds. For me, as a young religious, I don’t have time to think about darkness. I am too busy enjoying the light. My heart is in what I do. I see opportunities in this ever-changing world. I persevere in being as good a religious as I can be and when all that happens I gain energy. Energy gives me life, and in turn, I am able to give light to others. So when it comes to the future of religious life, I am not worried. I can’t dwell on what the past used to be nor on what the future might be. I am in the present, and the present I know. If I dwell on the past and worry about the future, I will miss what is in front of me today. Jesus has the wheel and he knows what he is doing. So Jesus let’s go on the journey; I’m coming along for the ride.