Yes to an encounter

Our Province has started praying for vocations in a particularly focused way on the 25th of each month, with material for personal and community prayer and reflection being prepared by different communities and teams. This month we were taken back to the spiritual journey embarked on by the Society worldwide in preparation for our bicentenary in 2000, and to these words at the very beginning, in the section entitled Return to the freshness of our original vocation: 

It was our own personal attraction to Christ that led us one day to follow Him in the Society of the Sacred Heart. What was it like? Was it a bright light – or a tiny spark? a murmuring stream – or a raging torrent? or just a quiet certainty? Whatever it was, we said yes to an encounter with Him who touched our hearts; it set our feet along the path and moved our hands to action.

It has swirled and stirred up memories, as varied and colourful as the leaves swirling about my feet on the Woodstock Road. I recall the slow, seeping, growing fascination with Jesus; the yearning, grappling beginnings of deeper prayer; the gradual surrender to the calls and challenges of the Gospel dissolving my resistance. I also recall, with indelible clarity, the moment God let me know something of the strength, depth and immensity of his love for me; let me know that he had created me for himself, and nothing less would satisfy. And I recall my yes to that intense encounter, the knowledge that the only response I could give - the only one being asked for - was to return love for unmeasured love.

That was my original call, the primordial encounter which seared itself on my heart and contained - though I didn't know it at the time - the seeds of a call to be RSCJ, to be 'of the Sacred Heart'. And so I recall the markers and encounters of that journey of discovery, beginning with that moment, on my first-ever visit, when I crossed the threshold and simply felt at home, in a way I didn't feel in any other community I visited. Moments and encounters which confirmed the rightness of the path I had set out on, even as they called for another yes upon yes.

What was it like? the reflection asks - this or that? And I realise there is no either/or. There were a few bright lights in among darkness and various tiny sparks; a gentle, murmuring stream weaving through everything, with the sudden surprise of a raging torrent... and throughout it all, a deep, quiet certainty, which sustained and kept my heart firmly on the journey on which it had embarked, even in all the dark and difficult places. It was all of that - and yet it was also none of that. Metaphors can come close, but I believe that at the heart of each encounter with God, with Jesus, lies something indescribable; something beyond words and images and realities like rivers and lights; something uniquely personal for each one, the unwrapping, discovering and living of which becomes the central, defining call and joy of each person's life... an ongoing yes to an encounter which is ever new, ever life-changing and increasingly heart-opening.

And you... what was it like for you?