God’s designs were made known

Sister Katy van Wyk is a Dominican Sister of St. Catharine of Siena of King William’s Town, South Africa; she lives in Johannesburg. After teaching, she served in leadership as a team member and assistant leader, later continuing in mission effectiveness for Dominican schools. Currently, she conducts retreats, volunteers as a community art counselor with underprivileged children, and facilitates empowerment workshops for young women at risk of teenage pregnancy, drug or alcohol abuse, and physical/sexual abuse.

To be with what is, is to trust in God’s Providence…

This is a line from a poem I wrote in 1994 when my brother died — a day before my final vows. I grew up in a large Presbyterian family with very little food — sometimes none. But our trust was accompanied by an active faith.

My mother always insisted we have a fire going and a pot of water on the stove. On those very tough days, a relative or stranger would “magically” appear with something to eat. With childlike awe, I marveled at how my mother knew we would get what we needed. But we had to do our part, too: pray, collect wood and fetch water from the communal tap. The bearers of gifts did not have to wait long for a cooked meal, in which we all shared.

This attitude was instilled and nurtured in us from a young age. Trusting, according to my mom, also meant learning to be patient, not demanding or rushing God, and being grateful for the water and the fire. Here, I learned to “know and to believe in the love God has for us” (1 John 4:16).

My practice, the first thing in the morning, has been to thank God for the new day and to let God’s light and love shine through me this day. Trust, faith and gratitude, I believe, shaped and continue to shape my vocation.

I came to know and recognize God’s loving designs through people, nature and just being with what is. During challenging times or when tempted to only see scarcity, I would be reminded of the pearls of wisdom from my childhood and recognize what I already have or what else I have to “collect,” and leave the rest to God.

Now, as days become weeks and months, the pandemic seems to have brought us to an invisible, directionless crossroad, where we are to pause and hear God’s voice: “This is the way; walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21). At times, it seems there is no way, but I trust that the way forward is unfolding as we move on, one step a time.

I am also reminded by my poem that to “be with what is, is to be fully in the moment, to let the joy and the pain, beauty and darkness, life and death, be what it is, with no attachment or judgment, just gratitude.”

We’re delighted to bring you this blog from the monthly feature “The Life” courtesy of our friends at Global Sisters Report. This month “The Life” panelists were invited to reflect on an instance they had of revisiting their own past experiences and seeing in them how God’s loving designs were made known. CLICK HERE to read more blogs from The Life, GSR’s monthly feature about the unique, challenging, and very specific lives of women religious around the world.