Question 2: When have you felt God’s love?
by Sr. Julie Vieira, IHM
I expected God would show up at my retreat. What I didn’t expect was the leap of faith I would be invited to take.
It was the summer before I became a novice with the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Monroe, Michigan. Nothing earth-shattering was going on in my life; I had tangled with God enough and was finally at a place of peace as I realized that I really was being called to be an IHM Sister. I was ready to settle into a quiet week of hiking in the woods, praying, and chatting with my spiritual director.
That’s when I discovered the pool behind the retreat house. I had to pass it every day on my way to hike. The pool scared me. It had a diving board. And water. I wasn’t much of a swimmer and was terrified of climbing up a slippery ladder just to bounce uncontrollably on a slab of plastic before plunging into unknown waters.
I somehow got it in my head that I had to go to the pool and jump off that diving board. But I was too scared, and had lots of excellent reasons why I shouldn’t.
The idea wouldn’t let go of me, though. My retreat was almost over, and I knew it was incomplete. So I marched to the pool in a T-shirt and shorts, armed with a nun-embroidered beach towel. My legs shook as I climbed the ladder and tiptoed to the edge of the board. I let my mind go blank, and I jumped.
It wasn’t pretty, but it was one of the most beautiful leaps I’ve ever made. God’s call to the pool transformed me. The event is still a guiding metaphor for me, especially in those times when I sense God’s call to something that feels way over my head. Even when I am scared, unsure, and faltering, the very next step always has the potential to be a leap of faith!
Sister Julie Vieira, IHM, is a member of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Monroe, Michigan. She is co-founder of the popular website A Nun’s Life, an online ministry that utilizes Internet technology and social media to connect people with Catholic sisters and the rich tradition of religious life. She holds a master’s degree in theology from Regis College, the Jesuit School of Theology at the University of Toronto.