The Gift

The congregation began to sign the hymn, Here I Am, Lord and as we were sitting at the back, I felt less self-conscious and opened my mouth to actually sing instead of merely mouthing the words.

I, the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard my people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin,
My hand will save.

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.

(Words and Music by Daniel L. Schutte 1981)

It was a beautiful hymn, an inspiration to many, and I'd sung it many times before over the years. That day, however, it struck a chord deep within and I wasn't prepared for how it affected me emotionally. Was I somehow touched by the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, Counselor, who was promised to us all? Was He speaking to me at that moment, telling me, or even asking me? Was He trying to reach out to me, me who can be so stubborn, refusing to budge, and who easily has knee-jerk reactions to another's suggestions or plans?

What was His plan for me?

We should make use of the gifts we're given. I'd always thought that mine was writing, as unpolished as it is and as unworldly as I am. But neither am I that spiritual. I thought I was. Once. A long time ago. I read books, I attended lectures, and my attendance at Mass was even a joy, something to look forward to. I was actively seeking then. Why do I not actively seek now? I was a single woman then. Now I am a married woman, albeit a childless woman as well. The vocation of marriage without children. How does that work? I suppose that is what I am still finding out. It is so easy for lethargy to set in. There is that danger. Apathy is another. Sloth.

Is it I? Was He calling me? I was in a public place and I felt that my response should have been a private one. And yet there was nothing else I could have done except give in to an emotion that surprised me. Is it I, Lord? What are You calling me to?

I also once thought that I had the gift of Love. A wonderful gift, that. And sometimes a painful one to have for one is not always loved as much in return or even loved at all. It is a hard road, this road of Love. But look at me. Who am I to wonder about it at all when the One who is Love gave His life for us all. If I am to love, and if I am to write, I shouldn't be ashamed to write about what I want or even need to write. Surely I can be respectful but surely I can also be honest. For if I am not honest, why write at all? I used to disguise my experiences and musings as fiction. It was easier that way, more appropriate, perhaps. Writing about pieces of my history and fantasies that I actually entertained were a different story, however, as I had to write under a pseudonym. Not only was it safer but it also felt more liberating.

How odd -- or not so odd, really -- that I can write fiction under my real name but I use an alias when writing the true events of my life. Many years ago, I wrote a short story using a pseudonym. I was still rather shy then, wanting to be known as a writer, yet also afraid to be known. It was a gradual process.

I have to use my gift, for it is, indeed, a gift. If I am to love, and if I am to write, then let me love, and let me write. Let me not be afraid even when using the written word to get my message across.

I still don't feel You close to me but maybe I put too much emphasis on that. Maybe if I did feel something, or maybe if I did see the burning bush, or my own version of it, I would question too much, like I'm prone to do.

For someone as uncertain as I am, is it any wonder that I dwelled on the words, "Is it I?" rather than "Here I am." Even when I want to be certain, I question myself. Or I question You. I asked too many questions when I was a younger woman. I sought answers that couldn't be given to me. I was searching so I thought it was perfectly natural to ask questions. But my questions never ceased even as I aged which only confused me sometimes. It wasn't You that confused me. It was me. Because I was afraid. And I'm still afraid.

If I can help through my writings, then please let me help. I recognised that gift since I was a young girl. I am just sorry that I didn't develop it as I should have. But now is not the time for regrets nor looking back. It is not always easy to write. Neither is it always easy to love. Whether or not I ever had the gift of Love, I will never really know. But I can put words together -- although there is always lots of room for improvement -- and I can share my experiences, such as they are. I don't know where this road will lead me. Enough with the apathy and uncertainty.

My gift -- or gifts -- can be used in different ways. I know one way and I'm doing it right now. Let me not be afraid of that.

I know that I resist and that I can be extremely stubborn. I am also wary and fearful, and inexperienced in other ways. There is a life outside of the written word. Let me not be afraid to speak, to act. Let me not be afraid ... period.

Is it I? Here I am.

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