Fifteen or so years ago, when I had returned to church and was starting to seriously discern God’s will for my life and vocation, a certain song hit a chord with me and became deeply intertwined with my prayer life and discernment. The song was Jesse Manibusan’s Open My Eyes:
There were nights that I drove around, praying the words. One night in particular, after leaving an evening of coffee and Scrabble with Suzanne, “praying” that song opened my heart to God and helped me clearly “hear” and understand that marriage with Suzanne was my first vocation.
I’ve always been fortunate enough to stay keenly tuned into the little “signs” that pop up around me in everyday life, and I act a lot by gut (within reason) based upon those signs. I could list countless examples of signs that came at just the right time to help me understand that something was right, or that I was heading in the right direction, or that I should explore a new opportunity.
I firmly believe that being “tuned in” to signs and using them in one’s discernment is a key element of a strong faith life, and a confirmation of the presence and fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Fast forward more than a dozen years… in October of 2013, I headed to Springfield, IL, to the gathering space at our diocesan cathedral, for an “information session” on the permanent diaconate and the formation process. As we sat down and the presenters started to play a video about the diaconate, the video opened with Open My Eyes as the background music.
A sign. Among others that day, this one stood out as another signpost along my journey, that I was heading where God intended.
I applied, continued the process, was accepted as a candidate, started in the program, and am now coming close to completing my first year of the five year formation program.
It hasn’t been easy – one of the first classes we took was on discernment, and it has provided useful frameworks and encouragement for ongoing discernment. But recently, as a couple of my classmates have left our class, discerning that this isn’t a call for them right now, it has continued to awaken my own doubts and questions, and continued to push me to more deeply discern my own calling.
A few weeks ago, when I went for my early morning time with my spiritual director, I first attended morning Mass at his parish church. As I sat down after the Gospel and homily, pondering what I wanted to talk with him about as it related to my own questions, doubts, and discernment, the musician announced the hymn at Offertory:
Just what I needed. Yet again, God provided a sign. A flood of memories of a life of discernment, and perspective on a life of mission and calling, flowed back into my mind and my heart.
The sign told me that I was right where God willed me to be today. And the journey continues, and I continue to watch for the signs.
Do you use “signposts” like these from God in your journey? What kinds of signs have meant the most to you in your life? Is there a very memorable important one from your own journey?