Triptych

A triptych is usually an icon with three images together. In the last few weeks there were three separate moments that have together spoken to me.

The first was at Sunday Mass two weeks ago. We attended the children’s mass at Old St. Pat’s here in Chicago and after Gospel, the presider called all the children in the church to gather on the steps to the sanctuary. He asked them if any of them had any special gifts and talents. He gave them examples of silly things like being able to roll your tongue or cross your eyes. He also gave them other examples like being able to sing and dance. Every child there happily rose his or her hand and acknowledged that they had a special gift.

The second moment was Saturday evening watching the US figure skating championships. The top two winners in the competition would represent the US at the Olympics. Some of the women competing were in their mid 20s which is considered old for this sport and this most likely would be there last chance to go to the Olympics. The commentator gave them a lot of credit for training for so long and encouraged them not to leave the sport with any regrets otherwise they would wonder for the rest of their lives what if…

And lastly, yesterday at Sunday Mass the presider quoted Mary Oliver’s poem “When Death Comes” in his homily. The poem ends with this sentiment, “When death comes… I don’t want to end up having simply visited this world.”

At a glance, these three things may not seem very cohesive. But each of them made me pause and consider what are my gifts, am I using and developing them so that I won’t have any regrets, if I were to die tomorrow would I feel like I had only visited this planet. I know that I have been blessed by God with various gifts and talents but like the youngsters at St. Pat’s can I readily and willingly name them? Can I claim them with joy and exuberance rather than putting my gifts down as nothing special? And what of the skills that I have that are perhaps not as good as another’s in the same area? Am I still developing and using them, still trying my best while I have the energy? And when the time comes can I let the younger generation replace me? Am I living so that I won’t have regrets that will make me some day ask what if I had really tried to write some poetry or create some lovely artwork, what if I had learned Greek and Hebrew? There are no simple answers to these questions.

However, as I prepare to take on the work of forming the new members of our community these questions become more important because these are precisely the challenges I will have to present to the young women in my care. I will want to help them discover and use all the gifts they have. I will want them to make the most of their formative years and move forward with no regrets. And if I am to be an authentic witness, if I want to leave this world not as a visitor then I must do the same myself.

Several years ago, I came across some excerpts from the works of Erma Bombeck. Though she was known for her funny stories, it was some of her more inspirational writings that have stayed with me. As I face these questions about how I will choose to live my life these words of hers are a source of hope and inspiration. She wrote, “”When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’ “

This entry was posted on Monday, January 25th, 2010 at 6:18 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses to “Triptych”

  1. Sr. Carol Jean said:

    Dear Sr. Lynn, Thank you for sharing your Triptych insights. It is our call to live out the gifts and talents given to us by God, but it is also such a risk to live to so openly. In community there is such a chance to support those gifts and talents…if we can allow the ‘new’ in each member to grow and flourish. God Bless your preparation for formation, it sounds like you’ll do well in your new ministry!
    Blessings, Sr. Carol Jean

  2. Holly @ Crownlaiddown said:

    I love this, Sister Lynn. I especially love the poem…I don;t want to just be a visitor either. I’m asking God to equip us all with His ability in all circumstances.

    Thank you for writing this! I was feeling a bit down today and did not even know why. I needed a change o’ focus :)

    Love to you!
    holly

  3. Kathy from Tulsa said:

    SO glad I have you guys on facebook! Saw your entry and went there immediately. The mom of a close friend is dying right now, most likely in her final hours. She is one who definitely knew and used her gifts. She brought communion to those who couldn’t make it to church, my dad included in his last two years. She made sure all were taken care of. Great to read your entry as we pray for her happy and peaceful passing.

  4. Maria said:

    Great post, Sr. Lynne :-) I love the triptych metaphor.

    Part of what I do at work is to help people discover what gifts, skills, talents they have. And it’s made me realize that the biggest part of this is to love yourself enough to be able to see what is beautiful about you in God’s eyes. I’ve found that it’s when I’ve had setbacks and I realize where my strengths aren’t – that’s when I can understand more specifically what they are.

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