September sees for some of us a return to school, work and looking forward to new beginnings at College or University following the end of holidays or after examination results. Hopefully a break from routine at some point during the year brings fresh energy, enthusiasm and opportunity to take stock on where we think things are in our lives and what our priorities are.
Generally we like to know where are with things, what is expected of us and that there are few surprises and unexpected things to face. We like the waters to be fairly stable and to know the course of our respective ships. However, we know that this is not always the case and sometimes a bit of the unexpected isn’t a bad thing if it opens a new door or helps us to see some clarity. Serious illness or a change in our circumstances which brings uncertainty is something we fear, partly because of the possible circumstances and partly because we feel out of control of the situation.
We have all been inspired at one point or another by people’s courage, bravery, determination and faithfulness in coping with adversity, illness, bereavement and challenges within their lives. Sometimes their situations have spoken into our own and sometimes, without realizing it, we have given people strength and encouragement in how they have seen us coping with things.
Hildegard took her vows as a nun at the age of eighteen in Germany. She received visions of light during periods in her life of repeated illness and physical weakness. These times tested her faith and questioned her ability to continue in God’s service, fearing that she was unable in her suffering to be of use to him. Yet, she saw in the light the reflection of God’s light, love, strength and peace that gave her spiritual and mental strength to endure the times of weakness. Instead of giving up her vocation, she felt strengthened to witness to God’s love for her and as a pastor and teacher, she saw herself as a `feather on the breath of God,’ that in whatever situation or state we may be facing or going through, the love of God holds us and the breath of God fills us with hope, strength and peace.