"Those who were in the dark are thankful for the sunlight ..."
I chuckled quietly as we sang this line from "Behold the Lamb of God" during Sunday's liturgy at Our Lady of Guadalupe Monastery in sunny Phoenix, Ariz. Twenty-one sisters under 40 years of age had escaped more wintry parts of the country and traveled here for the annual Giving Voice 20s/30s retreat. We were, indeed, thankful for the sunlight! During Mass, the chapel of this beautiful Benedictine retreat center overflowed with our group and the regular Sunday crowd. Radiant sunbeams flooded the room, reflecting the warmth and joy of the community gathered. As we joined our hearts in prayer, I wished I could bottle up the moment -- and the weather.
The liturgy came to life with beautiful Scripture. In the first reading (1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19), we heard the famous call of Samuel, and in the Gospel (John 1:35-42), Jesus' invitation for his disciples to "come and see." Psalm 40 sings of a joyful response to God's call, and the second reading from St. Paul to the Corinthians (6:13c-15a, 17-20) reminds us that we are temples of the Holy Spirit.
Gratitude bubbled up in me as I savored God's word standing among 20 "young nuns" who, like me, have taken Jesus up on his beckoning to "come and see" about religious life. These women have entered in ones and twos and often into undefined or evolving formation processes. These women have risked a joyful "yes" to a road not often traveled. Each woman draws strength from the Spirit of God within her. Each woman continues to say, "Here I am, Lord," wherever she finds herself on the journey, from pre-novitiate to having professed final vows.