Angela Merici encourages us to “cultivate the vine entrusted to us.” As I dip into my prayer of contemplation every morning, I feel Angela’s words in my heart. It is a gift for me to start off the day with a cup of coffee and an hour to deepen my love of God and feel God’s love for me. Angela is a companion for me during this time of prayer. Contemplation for me is being “present to the presence” of God and Angela journeying with me, sensing their presence in those quiet moments. Taking time together and sensing their spirits energize me as I move into ministry carrying God’s love and Angela’s gentle presence with me.
Sometimes I ask Angela what she would like me to share with our students and co-workers at Ursuline Academy when I begin the day with them, and I share at times over the PA system. Later, as I walk down the hall at school and greet the students along the way, some of them may stop and tell me how great it was to hear what St. Angela wanted them to know or pray for.
It is a joy for me as an Ursuline to make an annual retreat, days of prayer which I call my “vacation with God.” When I am at a retreat center, a special kind of contemplative prayer for me is the outdoor labyrinth. This is a tradition dating back thousands of years in religious cultures, and many kinds of labyrinths have been created. This concentric walking pathway is a way for me to prayerfully center myself and “be present to God’s presence,” moving toward a center, and then moving out again, bringing those special moments to others.
These haiku poems suggest what the fruits of contemplation are for me:
I walk, hearing Angela’s
“Cultivate the vine” gift from God
Reach out to our world
As I wonder, sensing God’s
Breath on our good earth