Her chosen star

Blog Published: December 30, 2023
By Sister Anne-Louise Nadeau, SNDdeN
lake under starry night sky
Anne-Louise Nadeau is a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur from Maryland. Her academic background was in sociology/social work and pastoral counseling. She taught in high school and college, where she also served as associate dean of students. Later, she worked in My Sister's Place (a women's center), was the director of programs for Pax Christi USA, and served her congregation on the leadership team. Currently, she is an anti-racism trainer/consultant.

It was in a community college parking lot that I received a piece of wisdom that continues to sustain me to this very day.

A sister in my community was celebrating her 80th jubilee and I invited her to the local community college where some of her former first graders were in a production of "Man of La Mancha." She was clearly delighted and touched with every word, character, song and movement of the play. She was taken by total surprise when her students honored her at the final curtain call.

Once in the parking lot, she told me not to start the car and that she needed my total and undivided attention. She began with: "That play will be the story of your life."

She proceeded to explain that I was to choose a star that I would never cease to follow even though it would seem like an impossible dream. The star was to be an orientation/vision, be it mercy, compassion, humility, goodness, etc., that I would seek to both emulate and celebrate when I encountered that star in all the places and people I would meet in my life. The star would be a teacher.

In all of the years that have followed that parking lot conversation, and as a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur, my chosen star has been goodness.

I chose to embody goodness in attitude, word, behavior and glance, and, most importantly, to learn goodness and marvel at it in the most diverse people and places. They teach me goodness in their welcome, in the places they call home, in offices, supermarkets, gas stations, on street corners, restaurants, and in their manner of praying to the God they believe in and worship.

Life has felt, at times, like an impossible dream, especially when experiencing times of profound sorrow at the illnesses and deaths of those we love, along with the inability to right the overwhelming wrongs of violence and injustice toward those marginalized and made poor by economic systems. To remain steadfast to the quest, no matter how hopeless it feels, how far out of reach it appears, or how weary it feels, is a gift from the Holy One who infuses us daily with the graces to remain steadfast to the dream.

The quest must live on and we must not allow the dream to fade, paraphrasing the final lines of the famous song "The Impossible Dream": "And the world will be better for this, that one man [and women] scorned and covered with scars, still strove with their last ounce of courage to reach their unreachable star."

We’re delighted to share with you this blog from the monthly feature “The Life” courtesy of our friends at Global Sisters Report. This month, The Life panelists reflected on the question: What is a piece of wisdom that you received in religious life that continues to sustain you today? CLICK HERE  to read more blogs from The Life series, GSR’s monthly feature about the unique, challenging, and very specific lives of women religious around the world.


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