Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Carrying Graces into the World

Let me begin by sharing part of a story I wrote that was first printed in The Witness back in April, 2014.

“During retreat one year, the Holy Spirit asked me to ask Him for a sign of His love for me. That doesn’t mean I was hearing voices or anything. It’s kind of the same thing when the phone rings and you know who is on the other end before you answer it. You just know. I answered the Holy Spirit by saying to Him, in prayer, ‘I want to see a Baltimore oriole.’ This is a yellow and black bird that is not very common in the place in which I was on retreat. They are present, but not very common. Shortly thereafter, I went out for a walk on the grounds of the retreat center. During the course of my walk, a car passed me and I indicated to the driver that I was on retreat by lowering my eyes. As I looked at my feet as the car passed, to my surprise at the tips of my toes laid a yellow feather! I was then reminded of the sign I asked to receive. Even so, I didn’t need to see the bird, I had its feather! Because of this, feathers have become a reminder of God’s love.”

Recently, I experienced something that has added a “part two” to the story above. On an almost daily basis, I spend 15-25 minutes each day walking the parking lot at the Diocesan Center, carrying a Rosary and praying either the Divine Mercy Chaplet or repeating, “Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” As I was finishing a loop of the parking lot, I noticed a beautiful, perfectly shaped, light brown feather that was apparently moving by itself. I thought that this was odd because there was no breeze that day. As I got closer to this feather, I was surprised to see a tiny red ant that was holding feather by its quill in its mandibles and dragging it along the ground. The ant would drag the feather about a yard, drop it, circle the feather three times, pick it up and begin dragging it all over again. I watched as this resourceful ant dragged the feather across the entire parking lot.

When I got back to my office, I Googled “ant dragging feather.” Who would have thought that this is commonplace within the red ant community? Entomologists do not know exactly why they do it and there are multiple theories about it. I will leave you to do some research on this phenomenon.

As I marveled at this aspect of the natural world, I prayed, “What is the lesson in this?” It came to me gradually that we all receive graces from the workings of the Holy Spirit. We need to acknowledge those graces in all humility and gratefulness. However, these graces are often not for ourselves. We often need to drag those graces into appropriate moments of our day or drag them into conversations with other people. By doing this, it hauls the graces given to us into our world and the world of others.

Lugging these graces around creates an environment that opens us to the presence of God in our midst, which flows from the Eucharist. It seems to me that my series on the Eucharist has an extension! The next few articles I will share will be all about how God speaks to us!

By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness

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