Father Bill also used a metaphor of a theater stage crew to describe God’s hidden presence in our lives. Especially in times of suffering, it can be difficult to see God’s graces, but like a good stage crew, the goal is to make sure everything operates smoothly even while remaining hidden from sight. I remembered this image of the stage crew as I was working on an article for the Vocation Stories series. When I showed my draft to Michele Gatts, Public Relations and Development Coordinator for the sisters, she explained that the subject of the story should be given more of a voice. Rather than passively recounting the information, she suggested that I continually return to the person being interviewed to make them the “expert” of their own story. My role as the author is to help people tell their story, and I kept this in mind as I revised the article. There is grace in being the stage crew and working behind the scenes, shining the spotlight.
During one of the initial conferences, Father Bill opened with the analogy of French impressionism. If you stand too close to a Renoir painting, for instance, all you see are the brush strokes. When you take a step back, though, each of those little lines and smudges create an image. Father Bill explained that retreat functions in the same way. On a day to day basis, we only see individual brush strokes, but retreat gives you the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the bigger picture. The young adult faith sharing group, which met once a week over the course of the summer, had the same function for me. Each of us were serving in different ministries, but when we met for faith sharing, we were able to bring our unique experiences and draw strength from each other. When I mentioned the impressionism analogy at faith sharing, I realized that even the cover of this month’s prayer book was a perfect example. The flecks of color in the Van Gogh painting form the rich soil where seeds can take root.
On a weekend trip to Conneaut, Ohio, I brought a puzzle to work on when the evening breeze made it too chilly to walk along the lake. Keiva, who was a Companion in Mission with me this summer, helped spread the pieces on the kitchen table of the cottage, and together we arranged them into little houses and hot air balloons. We finished the puzzle that same evening, and I teased her that since we finished this one so quickly, maybe we were ready to take on the Vatican puzzle, too. “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” she said, and we shared a laugh. Over the course of the summer, between our outings to Handel’s ice-cream, saying prayers with the sisters before bed, and going for walks around the Motherhouse grounds, we’d become a team.