Living in the Two Hearts

My Spiritual Insights and Musings

Part 2: Ouch Lord, this hurts!

Returning Home: Part 2a:

A “not quite” so Brief Recap from Part 1… extra details remembered…

Heavenly consolation was followed a few weeks later by a phone call from a retired priest, a close family friend who had baptized me as an infant.  He was up North and visiting some friends who told him of a teaching position that was available in their school.  Immediately he had thought of me.  After speaking with the parish priest, and giving me “rave reviews”, he told me he passed along my phone number to them and I should be expecting their call.  This occurred on the holiday weekend of July 4, and it was another week and a half before their call was made.

In the mean time, my own family was insisting that I try and get a teaching job closer to ‘home’.  They had not realized the transformations I had gone through, and the direct intervention by God to take me out of the public school system and place me in the Catholic school system.  They indeed went so far as to have me test and receive a provincial license from the state of Colorado which, as it turned out, came very handy two years later.  But I knew I would remain in Wyoming, for a time at least, and that my first job would be in a Catholic Elementary School.  I just wasn’t entirely sure where.

I had missed the first phone contact, they left me a message.  I called back and left them a message.  This went on for another several phone calls.  Between the family-pressure I received ‘down-south’ and the feelings of inadequacy coming from the enemy, I was borderline depression.  Ready to just ‘give-up’, I turned to my bed for a nap when the phone rang.  At last the school up north and I caught up with one another!  I answered and was implored to come up for an interview.  I made sure that the job was really available, and they weren’t just satisfying a ‘quota’ by interviewing for a position that was already filled.  The parish priest assured me it was not filled, and he offered to pay for my gas and lunch if I would kindly drive up for an interview.  This was an 8hr drive, so the offer of gas and food was more than appropriate and very appreciated.

The interview date and time set, I made preparations to travel.  Having lived in Wyoming much of my life, I was used to the long drives. 

Side Note: If any of ya’ll ever intend to visit Wyoming, make sure you always have a full tank of gas every time you leave a town.  Wyoming is sparsely populated, and many times towns that once were are still marked on the map even though they are no longer.  This means, gas stations are few and far between.  If you travel on what appears to be highway, but actually turns out to be an ‘old highway’, it could be miles before you come into civilization again.  This is what makes Wyoming such a great place to camp!  You really are in the wilderness!!!

Back to the Story: I left early that morning and arrived early to the interview that afternoon.  I toured the school that may be my first job site.  My interview was next, and upon entering the room, a full feeling of peace washed over me.  This is nothing short of miraculous as the interviewing committee consisted of two priests, the principal, and four parents – two of which were on the Parish Council.  I sat down and the interview began in prayer.  Then the questions started.  All the materials I had prepared were looked at.  The parents were enthusiastic about what I had to say.  In fact, the entire interview felt like a group of friends gathered to discuss education and children, and here is someone with knowledge and experience on the subject, me!  When I told them I would like to incorporate the praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet on a daily basis before the students went home (they got out of school at 3:10p), the parents, principle, and priests agreed that would be a wonderful addition to a daily routine.

When I told them I like to teach with activity and creativity, they asked for examples and were even more enthusiastic than before!  All these things were very different from the first interview spoken of in the last segment.  That feeling of peace became even stronger.  I think the interview lasted over an hour, but as I was leaving, the parish priest and many of the parents all said to me in turn, “Whatever it takes, we’re going to get you here to teach in our school!”  I returned home happy and confident that God’s Will would be done, and hopefully that meant I would be teaching in this school.

Sure enough, a week later the principal contacted me and offered me the 5th grade position.  Two weeks later I was driving up in a U-haul truck to my new home, located right next to the church and across the alleyway, behind the school.  My dad had helped me pack, and we had made a quick stop to my Grandparents, which was on the way, to pick up an easy chair.  When I arrived, a crew of dads and sons were there to assist in the unloading of the truck.  It took my dad and I well over three hours to pack the truck, and less than 15 minutes for these men to unload the truck! God has a wonderful sense of humor!

The rest of the story…

My classroom was large enough to fit 30 students, but thankfully my class size was only 15 students.  The town is small, less that 9,000 population, so 15 students is pretty good!  The students were wonderful kids who had had a disastrous 4th grade.  The teachers changed half-way through the year, and such a change can be very detrimental both emotionally as well as academically.  The replacement was not even a teacher, and the damage to the student’s psyche was severe.  My principal had recognized this fact and asked me to focus on ‘rebuilding’ this psyche, thus allowing all to become a team again.  They had been together since Kindergarten, so the team structure was in place at one time, it just needed to be re-established.  Not knowing exactly how to do this, I turned to the Holy Spirit for complete guidance.  He in turn opened numerous doors that allowed us to work on becoming a team and learning how to trust one another.  The kids began to gradually change, and with prayer as a daily presence in the classroom, their spiritual development took off as well!  God was alive and well, working in each of us as we grew closer and closer to each other and to Him.  Within two months, the students went from being ‘blamed for everything’ wrong to the class that everyone ‘looked up to’.  It was incredible!  I also noticed that changes began to occur in me too.

Though is sounds as if I had great parental and administrative support, the real truth was, I had only a small amount of parental support – 2 or 3 sets of parents – and my administration support went from praising me ‘behind-my-back’ to undermining my classroom authority with those parents who did not support me.  The support from the parish side disappeared after I voiced a strong objection to showing a powerpoint presentation I had made for the purpose of fundraising – that was indeed viewed at a fundraising dinner, but now they wanted to show it during Mass.  The Holy Spirit had strongly convicted me with a visual of Jesus driving out the money changers from the Temple.  Mass was not the proper place to view this presentation intended to raise money for the school.  My suggestions of showing the presentation after Mass in the parish hall were flatly refused.  This and a few other events made it clear to me that my time in this post was not to continue.

In November of that year I handed in my resignation to the principal, expressing my disappointment in the treatment I had received as a result of petty ‘power-plays’ and greed.  I was committed to the year, but I would not go beyond. This was the result of the change that I had experienced.  My own dear family is much like this school’s administration and parents – controlling and greedy.  For years I had been manipulated and lied to by the people whom I should have been able to trust most in.  I was beginning to recognize the truth about my family and about myself.  Change was coming, and it wasn’t going to be painless.

At this same time a desire to look into Religious Life was becoming mighty powerful within me; and as a result I began to discern a religious vocation.  The Lord opened up only one pathway by a series of ‘doors’, and consciously – though not fully aware of what was happening – I walk through them knowing that God was calling me on.  From November to February I took every opportunity presented and made contact with a beautiful group of Religious women residing in Ann Arbor, MI.  They were newly formed – only been established as of 2000 ( and this was now 2003) – but they had as their core 5 religious women who were ‘seasoned professionals’, having lived the majority of their lives in Religious Life.  Each had received the calling to establish a new religious community, each left the same community with anticipation and total trust that God’s calling was TRUE, and established the Dominican Sister of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.  It was to this beautiful community that God was calling me to.

Since all arrows seemed to point in that direction, I followed with enthusiasm, went on retreat, came home with enrollment papers, took the next month and a half filling them out (they were quite complete!), and waited another month and a half before God gave His final word on the subject.  It seemed to be, “YES, Anne!  I’m calling you to Religious Life.  I want you to be a consecrated woman working for Me in establishing My kingdom on earth.”  So I went a step further to show Him my commitment to His plan.

It was May when I received my acceptance letter, and it was in June when I made preparations for moving temporarily back to my parents and then finally to Michigan.  With the assistance of my neighbors, I had two weekends of a massive yard sale.  I sold almost everything I owned.  My clothing I gave away to a homeless shelter that caters to families.  But my teaching supplies I kept, for this Order was a Teaching Order, and I already had my degree and license to teach.  Therefore, it was understood, that after completing my Novitiate I would be able to go into the classroom and begin teaching.  Or so I thought.  But I digress…

The freedom I received from having rid myself of all my possessions is indescribable!  The peace and Love that surrounded my heart was so overpowering that it manifested itself in great tears of Joy!  I’m sure my friend and neighbor was quite ‘taken aback’ even though she too joined in my ‘laughter-through-tears’ emotion.  I was heading on to a new life.  A radically different way of life.  One that I had always wanted from the time I was a small girl, placing my mom’s slips over my head and wearing them as if they were a veil.  Yes, I truly believed that this was the life I had always sought.

My arrival in Ann Arbor was one day prior to Entrance Day.  Myself and some of the other incoming postulants had decided to have one last ‘sleep-over’ a sort of ‘last night of freedom’, that is a freedom to go wherever and whenever you choose.  In Religious Life, your ‘whenever and wherever’ is determined by the community.  It was a lovely time, but one that each of us was looking forward to placing behind us.  All of us there were very committed to giving our lives entirely to God!  The day and evening took its time, but our anticipation and excitement continued to grow as we thought about tomorrow and wondered what it would be like.

That night, I figured I wouldn’t get much sleep.  I was excited and nervous about Entrance Day, AND I was sleeping in a sleeping bag on the floor – something that approaching the age of 30 years wasn’t very comfortable or easy for me to do.  Much to my surprise, as soon as I got comfortable in my sleeping bag and my head touched the pillow, I was OUT!  Fast asleep?  Not really.  The first of several mystical experiences was about to occur:

I suddenly became aware of my surroundings.  I was standing in front of the Mother House as it was prior to construction (looks very different today), and I had noticed that it was just me standing outside – none of the other postulants were around.  Just Mother Assumpta and Sr Joseph Andrew (vocation directress at the time), were standing before me.

I reasoned then that everyone was inside and I best be getting myself inside.  As I began to walk towards the front door, Mother held up her hand as if to say “Stop. You cannot enter.”  I looked at her in bewilderment and asked “Why not?”  She replied, “You can’t enter because you are married.”  At that I began to laugh and started towards the door once more.  Both moved in front of me and once again Mother put up her hand.  Realizing this was no joke, I replied, “I’m not married.  I don’t know what you’re talking about!  I’ve paid the dowry, I’ve made the aprons, I’m entering!”  But again Mother insisted that I was married and I was unable to enter.

I then began to think fast – did I get married and I just don’t remember?  Can I get a divorce or an annulment or something?  This is crazy!  I’m not married!!! Having reached no conclusion beyond “I’m not married”, I stated this again and Mother replied, “Well, there’s you husband right there.”  I turned and I looked.  Mind you, I could not make out any specific details, but I could tell his build, his hair color, and that he seemed like a mighty-nice fellow.  Briefly I thought, well, if I have to be married, I guess this isn’t too bad.  That lasted only a second because immediately my common sense kicked in and I again declared that I’ve never seen this man and have no idea who he is – which of course was true.  Mother then told me his name, and it was a name I was familiar with, but the person whose name matched did not look like this fellow.  So I lied and said I still didn’t know anyone by that name and I was entering, period!

I think I must have argued a couple minutes more before it dawned on me that if I just show them my left hand, then they would know that I’m not married.  I did this…and on my finger was a WEDDING BAND!  What?!  No, I’m not married!!! But no matter how hard I tried, I could not remove the ring.  I became very distressed and very…well, let’s just say I wasn’t too nice.  When God had had enough of my ranting and raving, He literally picked me up and DROPPED me back on top of my sleeping bag.

Yes, that is correct.  I was not in my sleeping bag, but outside of it and on top of it.  Realizing now where I was and that what had just happened was not actually real, for I immediately looked at my left hand and found no ring there, I very nervously returned to the inside of my sleeping bag and begged God never to allow that dream to happen again!  What I nightmare… I had thought.  Sure enough, God complied.  As soon as I laid my head onto my pillow, I was again asleep, but this time in a completely dreamless sleep.

It was only later that I had discerned the purpose of the dream: Religious Life was not actually why God had brought me here.  But again, this revelation only came to me much later and after the dream had returned to me to remind me of God’s purpose in my life.  Something which is still in progress. 🙂

The next morning I awoke to happy sounds and pancakes for breakfast.  I had completely forgotten the night before, and with my fellow postulants was received formally into the Religious community that God had called me to.  My new life was just beginning and, as it turned out, in more ways than I could have imagined.

Next Installment… Part 2b

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