Joan Chittister: Follow Your Joy!

Posted by Guest Blogger on 11/16/15 2:00 AM

Our guest blogger today is Sharon Cross. Employed at Franciscan Media since 1997, Sharon’s current role as a project manager with the Emerging Media team alternates between producing audio books, managing the Catholic Greetings e-card website, and overseeing Franciscan Media’s online and over-the-air audio features.

I have had the privilege and pleasure to both meet and work with someone whom I consider to be a wisdom figure: Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister. Our most recent meeting was to record the audiobook version of In God’s Holy Light: Wisdom from the Desert Monastics. Near the end of chapter twelve, Joan recounts the following fable from the Scripture of Nature:

“How many snowflakes does it take to break a branch?” the old owl asked the snowflake.

“I don’t have a clue,” the little snowflake replied.

“Then, if you don’t know if you can do it, why do you continue?” the owl pressed.

“Because,” the little snowflake said, “I want to do my part.”

Even though I couldn’t see Joan when she read these words, the conviction in her voice touched my heart. Ten months earlier, a debilitating illness had sapped her considerable strength. Surgery and a period of re-cooperation have since restored her vitality. On this day the only hints of that period of illness are a new dietary regimen to which she must adhere. The joy in her heart is apparent from the smile on her lips and the sparkle in her eyes.

Like the little snowflake, Joan continues to do her part for her Benedictine sisters, the neighborhood where she lives in Erie, Pennsylvania, and the entire Church. For many years now that part has revolved around writing, speaking, and living as a witness to God’s faithful love for all of us. Just take a look at the partial list of accomplishments on her book’s dust cover: award-winning author of over 50 books; co-chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women; executive director of Benetvision, a resource center for contemporary spirituality; founder and animator of the web-based Monasteries of the Heart movement, that shares Benedictine spirituality with contemporary seekers. I’m exhausted thinking about what just one of those activities must entail! I expect that Joan has embraced each invitation, each accolade, each set-back, as an occasion to do her part.

We all have a part to play in building the Reign of God. And though God’s expectations of us may be challenging, they are never unreasonable. If we each follow our joy and act out of love for others, we will surely complete our parts.

InGodsHolyLightIn God's Holy Light: Wisdom from the Desert Monastics provides:

* A piece of Christian wisdom for every week of the year to guide your spiritual journey

* The immensity of Monastic spiritual wisdom in an easy-to-understand format

* Practical insights that can apply to your spirituality in the modern world

Image courtesy of Sharon Cross

Topics: Prayer, Scripture, Inspiration, Featured