The Parish of the Resurrection was graced with Paula D’Arcy last Sunday evening, September 18, 2011. After finishing a retreat at Jesus House, she graciously hosted a witness talk at Resurrection for any and all who were interested in the diocese. To say her personal story of faith was powerful—well that is just about the understatement of the year!
At the heart of her sharing was the idea that indeed we have many plans for our lives. Some of us are even living out those plans to their fullest. But let us not be fooled, life has a plan of its own. No matter our desires, our will, our wants and needs, life has a journey unto itself. When we fight against it, we can be anxious, stalled, or even depressed. When we open ourselves to what may happen in life, contentment can be found, even real joy and peace.
In D’Arcy’s case, her plan was ripped out from under her. Her young child and husband were killed in a motor vehicle collision, in which she was spared. Her plan was immediately gone. It took years of searching, sharing, praying, and waiting for D’Arcy to see how the Holy Spirit was moving in and changing her life. She seems to now be a person who is very grateful for her life, and she has gone on to do wonderful and powerful acts of goodness in our world.
D’Arcy’s story resonated with me in many ways. I am a planner. A good one too! I have 3 calendars! Who needs 3 calendars? ME! But D’Arcy’s story also resonated with me in that she was a real person who had experienced immense grief and pain in her life, and she has come through it to tell about it. We all have pain and grief in our life. Maybe not catastrophic like D’Arcy’s, but maybe we have. We all have a story. We come together as believers often, in an effort to come through that pain. We bring that to our Eucharistic Liturgy on Sunday. Real healing, real hope is offered in dour community. D’Arcy spoke of “swinging doors” in her life as the many spiritual awakenings she has had while on her journey. Without having been opened to the working of God in her life, she would have never been able to see these moments as grace-filled. However, now through the eyes of faith, she sees different moments in her past a “swinging door”: when something happens that utterly changes your perception of yourself, the world you live in, and maybe your understanding of who God is.
Her story challenged me to look at my own life, through the eyes of faith, and to look for those “swinging door” moments. When has God intervened in my life, through other people, books I’ve read, moments I’ve shared, where I have left changed? Honestly, there have been many “swinging door” moments in my life. I’m sure there have been in yours as well. Take the time, think about it. How has God moved in your life? In this month? Week?
(Cory Zolandz is the director of Religious Education at Parish of the Resurrection in Wilmington, DE. The essay above is used here with her permission)