When Jesus asked “Come, follow me,” I replied “I’m too busy”

When Jesus asked “Come, follow me,” I replied “I’m too busy”

Here I Am, Lord
John Michael Talbot

I, the Lord of sea and sky
I have heard my people cry
All who dwell in dark and sin
My hand will save
I who made the stars of night
I will make their darkness bright
Who will bear my light to them?
Whom shall I send?

Here I am, Lord
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night
I will go, Lord
If You lead me
I will hold Your people in my heart
I, the Lord of wind and flame
I will tend the poor and lame
I will set a feast for them
My hand will save
Finest bread I will provide
Til their hearts be satisfied
I will give my life to them
Whom shall I send?

Here I am, Lord
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night
I will go, Lord
If You lead me
I will hold Your people in my heart
I will hold Your people in my heart

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Anna Laura Page / Daniel L. Schutte


Whenever I read the Gospel stories of Jesus asking people to “Come – follow me” I feel guilty—because although I was attracted to “follow him,” there was always something that held me back.
I had the urge from childhood. Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain influenced me, and I became interested in the cloister. I wanted to go to Catholic high school but when my mother agreed to pay the tuition; I decided not to go because they did not offer courses in chemistry that were required for entrance into nursing school.

When I went to Mount Saint Mary’s College for my nursing degree, I desperately wanted to enter the convent, but three things kept me from saying “Here I am, Lord.” I was shocked to find that entrance to conventual life required a “dowry” of $2,000. I didn’t have $2,000. Second, I couldn’t decide which order to enter—Maryknoll Missionaries, Trappistines or Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet. And third, but most persuasive, Mother refused me permission. I had to finish college first. (Unlike my greatly admired Sister Laurentia, who ran away from home to enter the convent, I did not have that kind of courage.)

So, I have spent my life doing “my own thing.”

During one of the many moves I have made in my nursing career, I found myself in a parish run by Franciscan friars. There I discovered that there was a “third order” of religious commitment. So, I applied to be a Third Order Franciscan and was accepted. After my novitiate, I became a Franciscan.  It was a wonderful time, working daily as a nurse while at the same time following the rules of a religious order.

Unfortunately, not every parish has a Franciscan Third Order, so I became a “distant” member until I moved to Canada and discovered my parish had a Franciscan Third Order chapter.  I found that attending meetings in the evenings, after a full day’s work, meant I had to drive 10 miles each way from home, in the dark, to attend meetings. As my eyesight deteriorated, driving at night had become dangerous. So, I stopped attending evening meeting but requested to be informed of any daytime activities. I never was. I felt as though I had been excommunicated.

Many, many years later—too many—I went on a week’s retreat at a Trappistine convent in Massachusetts. While on retreat I asked permission to enter but was told that by then I was “too old.”
A few years later, I saw an ad in the Diocesan newspaper that a Benedictine convent in Manitoba was seeking “late vocation” applicants. They offered a weekend “come and see.” I applied, was accepted, and went.

I was sorely tempted to join them, but like the Gospel story of the rich young man (Matthew 19: 21-22), I turned away sadly. Not that I was so rich, but because I had become a breeder of German Shepherd Dogs and was living with seven of them. I asked, “Can I bring my dogs with me?” The answer was. “No.” I pointed out that there was an order of monks who bred and trained German Shepherd Dogs as part of their income. In fact, the Monks of New Skeet had written a book called How to be your Dog’s Best Friend, which documented how they bred, raised and trained GSD puppies. The answer was still, “No.”

And I turned sadly away, like the rich young man. What was I to do with all my dogs? Since the nuns were self-supporting with outside jobs, could I get a job at the University of Saskatchewan? I never got so far as to explore the idea.

So, although I longed to say, “Here I am, Lord, if you need me. I will go, Lord.” I was too involved with other things to give it all up.

I admire those who say “Yes!” and mean it. Giving it all up and devoting a life to the Lord’s service. I could not do it, much as it drew me to conventual life.
A path not taken.

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