BY ANNA FERGUSON | December 21, 2014
I sit here writing this perhaps as a way to convince myself that this is really happening, that my choice is real. It is real, as real as my mom’s choice to marry my dad, as real as the UCA martyrs’ choice to stay in Central America (although my choice doesn’t seem as big as theirs). Either way, my choice is a yes that commits my life to one very important person, one very important thing.
In this season of Advent, I am struck by the multitude of choices, of “yes’s” made by our ancestors in faith: Mary’s “yes” to being the Mother of God, Joseph’s “yes” to remain committed to Mary and to be a foster-father to Jesus, the wisemen’s “yes” to go home a different way, to not tell King Herod where baby Jesus was, all important “yes’s.”
In this season of “yes’s,” I, too, am saying “yes.” I’m saying yes to standing on the shoulders of the UCA martyrs, to following in the footsteps of Mother Teresa and Thomas Merton, to contemplating in action like St. Ignatius of Loyola and Dorothy Day. I am saying yes to the grandest, most unimaginable adventure I have ever been on.
I am saying yes to religious life.
I know that with this yes, I am also saying no. I am saying no to marriage, to having a family, to doing whatever I want, when I want. To me, though, this no looks like emptying my hands of good things to make room for things that will be even better for me.
For me, this yes is a commitment to living my life for and with others, to serving the most marginalized and being in solidarity with the most vulnerable. This yes opens my life, my time and my heart to being the hands and feet of the gospel, to bringing Love into the loneliest, most desolate places.
This is what brings me joy. Such unspeakable joy.
In saying yes to this vocation, I also hope to shatter the popular belief that all nuns and religious sisters are the old, knitting, cloistered kind. There is nothing wrong with being old, with knitting or being a member of a cloistered order, these are all great, holy things. However, I hope to join, and shine a light on, all the religious sisters who are out in the world living, breathing and working for social justice. Because there are, indeed, young, vibrant, faithful women religious bringing about a more just world through their prayer, service and advocacy, and I hope to be one of them.
In this yes, I am not saying that one cannot work for justice or serve others through different vocations, or that my yes is somehow more important or bigger than yours. Rather, I am embracing a yes that perhaps looks different or less common than others, but a yes that hopes to do the same as all great yes’s do: breathe life and love into this world.
There is so much joy, so much peace, hope and love behind this yes of mine. It feels a lot like saying yes to falling in love and letting that love consume you. I am excited to see where this yes takes me, and I pray for a spirit open to many more yes’s. I feel so much gratitude, as well, for the people in my life who live out service, faith and justice in all they do, consecrated or not. All of their yes’s to living a faith that does justice give me the joy, courage and energy to make my yes, to join them in giving my life to this kind work.
As the semester and year come to an end and I reflect on the people and experiences that influenced my yes, as well as the many unknown paths my yes will surely take me down, the words of Dag Hammarskjöld come to mind: “For all that has been, thank you. For all that is to come, yes!”
Anna Ferguson is a junior studying theology and journalism at Creighton University. She is originally from Wheaton, IL, which is a suburb just West of Chicago, and, yes, a PROUD Cubs fan! The oldest of six girls, she comes from a lively family who instilled in her a desire to serve the less fortunate and learn as much as she can about the world around her. She came into Creighton with the dream of becoming a big reporter one day, but the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice, the service trip she attended, the volunteering she participated in, and her theology class convinced her otherwise throughout her freshman year. She couldn’t ignore her passion for service and love for the Catholic faith, so she tacked on a theology major, and dove deeper into service, social justice, and advocacy through her job in the Creighton Center for Service and Justice. Throughout these experiences, she realized that she wanted to use her writing skills for so much more than a big newspaper job. Today, her dream is to be a kind of missionary-journalist, engaging the world in the “gritty reality” around them (to borrow from Fr. Peter Hans Kolvenbach). (Follow Anna on Twitter @AnnaFeguson832).