I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after…
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat—and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet—
‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me’.
I can relate to Francis Thomas’ feelings of being “pursued” by One so persistent yet gentle, the One who asks me (and all of us) to follow Him.
If you had asked me about two years ago if I thought I would be entering a convent this summer, the answer would be a resounding “Absolutely not.” I knew where I was headed. I had a college degree, a job, a nice car, and all I needed was the right man to walk into my life so I could have everything I was “really” supposed to have.
In the meantime, I filled my calendar with just about every possible activity I could jump into, assuming that God gave me this single season of life so that I could be productive and use my time to be helpful to others. And, it is certainly true that one should be content with the single state in life. It’s not a ‘waiting for’ stage; Christ has a purpose for every stage in life. The activities were good and productive, but I was still not finding peace because I was merely filling time and ended up having no time for anyone. I soon found myself in a very self-focused, miserable stage of burn-out. I wasn’t really giving of myself to anyone. My prayer soon evolved from asking the Lord to make things happen for me, to simply asking to do His will.
And past those noisèd Feet
A voice comes yet more fleet—
‘Lo! naught contents thee, who content’st not Me.’
As I realized I needed more balance in my life, I scaled back my calendar and tried to focus more on prayer and listening to the Lord. I rediscovered my love of reading (of books, not websites), made time to exercise and be outdoors, and signed up for the vocations retreats that everyone had been hinting that I needed to attend.
(For, though I knew His love Who followed,
Yet was I sore adread
Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside.)
Throughout high school, college, and beyond, I had sat through various “vocations talks” (you know, the ones that faithful Catholic youth may encounter at various retreats and conferences, along with the occasional “chastity talk”) with a scowl on my face and resentment running through my head (‘THIS doesn’t apply to me, why am I here? I don’t need to listen because I know it’s not for me’). But underneath my denial, there was an uncomfortable question, the burning little “What if?” that bothered me whenever the thought of a religious vocation was presented to me. I would shut out the fearsome thought and move on with life.
So, when I slowed down, stopped running, turned around, and looked at the Lord, I faced the beautiful, overwhelming possibility that He was calling me. When I finally admitted this, I was able to answer, as C.S. Lewis says, “I know now Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?’
He didn’t force me. He didn’t overcome me all at once. As the hound in the poem, He pursued me, and convinced me little by little, step by step, that He may want more for me than I wanted for myself. One by one, fears that I have had along the way have been put to rest and provided for as I could never have planned myself. I am done running from Him, and even though I am continuing to discern and still do not know the ultimate picture, I am open to whatever surprises Christ may wish to send me. As a priest so beautifully put it to me, “He WILL be a faithful Husband. The question you need to ask yourself is, can you be a faithful wife?”
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save Me, save only Me?
All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.
All which thy child’s mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!’