These words of scripture that have been on my mind lately:
Do not remember the former things or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? (Isa 43:18-19)
They come to me because it seems that we are in times of great change. They remind me that everything changes but that God is in all the changes. These current times of uncertainty and challenge seem to be calling me to greater flexibility. There are many changes large and small in my life right now and I know that I am not alone. We are fortunate that we have a great tradition to draw upon to help us cope with these challenges.
St Louise counselled the early Daughters of Charity about the need to be adaptable to change. In fact, there is among her writings a specific piece on this topic.
The first reason that obliges the Daughters of Charity to accept changes of place, persons and duties is the respect that they owe to the example of the Son of God who acted in this way.
The second is that such changes can and must occur. If they are not accepted, we shall never enjoy the peace of soul that is essential if we are to please God and to accomplish His holy will.
The third reason is that the sisters must take into consideration the difficulties that Superiors encounter in. trying to please everyone; in finding Daughters of Charity to send to serve the poor in places where they have been requested; in trying to avoid the many inconveniences that may arise.
(Spiritual Writings of St Louise, 813-814.)
When I reflect upon these words; I think of these women who were involved in a new form of religious life and were being sent away from their home-towns at a time in which travel was not common. I particularly take to heart the words ‘changes can and must occur’, rarely were truer words spoken. We can struggle with changes, yet they are a part of each day of our lives. Of course, it takes time to adapt to changes but what can trip us up is if we resist them. I don’t know about you, but I can sometimes waste energy wishing that certain changes hadn’t happened. The wisdom of scripture and Louise remind me to be patient and work on accepting the changes as an important part of my life.
In another place, St Louise wrote:
You are well aware that changes are always difficult, and that it takes time to learn new ways of serving the poor skilfully and well.
(Spiritual Writings of St Louise, 385)
Someone the other day posed the question “what have you done in 2020 that you would not have imagined in 2019?” For all of us I am sure that there are many things that have challenged us to be creative and flexible in our approaches and to find new ways to do things that had been parts of our routine before. I have been inspired by the flexibility and adaptability in our members, staff and volunteers who have risen to the challenge of continuing to serve people in need by finding new ways to do this.
In the midst of all these challenges, it is important to care for ourselves and those around us. These words of Jesus have been keeping me company in recent days.
‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.’ (Matt11:28-30)
We are not alone; we have God and each other. ♦
Sr Therese Haywood is National Council Spiritual Adviser St Vincent de Paul Society