I saw a documentary the other day on the PBS art nun, Sister Wendy, and can’t stop thinking about what she said.
I think I am an inadequate woman
lacking in many things that make a full and beautiful character.
But it doesn’t matter because that’s who I am
and that’s the self I have to give to God
for Him to take to himself.
Just before I saw this program, an ad for plastic surgery aired, an ad that played on women’s insecurities about themselves. And so, when Sister Wendy said that she felt inadequate, I was so clear that she didn’t mean her looks, like so many of us would. She meant character flaws. And yet, she’s put them in perspective.
She accepts that she is who she is. Regardless of flaws, she knows she is a gift to God. Wouldn’t it be amazing if everyone could think that way?
Sister Wendy also talked about sex, confiding that she has never had any sex drive at all, and so her vow of chastity was easy. For that, she wasn’t grateful, she was regretful.
“I haven’t got that gift (chastity) to give to God.” Talk about turning the concept of asexuality on its head.
Instead, Sister Wendy sees her gift to God as a life of prayer: six hours of constant contemplation daily. Here’s what she says about it:
God speaks in silence.
Prayer will show you the truth about yourself
and that’s something that most of us go to a lot of trouble to avoid.
All deep experience does that
Great art does that.
It challenges you; raises you to a new level.
Something most of us go to a lot of trouble to avoid. Yes.
So many of us need to be constantly entertained. I’m guilty of that. Quiet contemplation, meditation, stilling my mind? Hard. And yet, by not developing a practice of prayer and contemplation, I know I’m missing something deeper than my life currently provides. I’ve been working on this.
Life is short. If you can give it to God, it uses it all.
That’s why I don’t believe in this happiness and unhappiness business.
You take what comes and you give it to God.
And if it hurts he will use that for the world as healing.
I don’t think we’re all that important
we’re only important to God, not to ourselves.
I was taken by this total acceptance of the way it is and giving it up to God–it’s uniquely Catholic, something I’ve seen among the seriously devout. And it may well be the best of Catholicism.
Here in Silicon Valley, where wealth and success are barometers, I love the grounded statement that Sister makes when she notes that we aren’t all that important in and of ourselves. Only to God.
Sister Wendy said that she thanks God every day for a life of indescribable happiness.
And while few of us would find that happiness the same way she does, we can find it in our own way.