Seen, yet unseen

Blog Published: July 10, 2023
By Sister Anne-Louise Nadeau, SNDdeN
"Nautilus Sweep," digital artwork by Notre Dame de Namur Sr. Terry Davis
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, and served her congregation on the leadership team. Currently, she is an anti-racism trainer/consultant.

It all began with the French word émerveiller, which translated means "to marvel," "to be in awe," "to wonder."

As a young child, I had the thrill of accompanying my father to daily Mass. Hearing a language I did not understand (Latin), and with all the kneeling, standing and sitting, I quickly grew bored and restless.  

My dad had a solution: I was allowed to bring into church one object of nature I discovered on our walk to church. During Mass, I was to do only one thing: wonder at what I was looking at. Over a two-week period, my collection included stones, leaves, a dandelion, a flower, a clover, a leaf, a blade of grass, a ladybug, a stick, and the occasional dust motes that danced in the light. I had the perfect "lab" to examine and to wonder about. Sitting on the kneeler, with the pew as my desk, I closely marveled at the objects that I accumulated.

The best part was the walk home, where my dad asked me what I had wondered about, and he, in turn, shared what he had wondered about during the Mass. God and goodness were always the theme of our conversations.

When restlessness set in again after about a month, one morning he pulled from his pocket a tiny magnifying glass with a lens the size of a quarter, and he told me to start over, examining each object in my collection. A new world of marvel opened before my eyes.

Things seen yet unseen with the naked eye were spectacular, and all of these were of God, and all things were connected.

The lessons I learned from my dad have always stayed and grown with me and formed my image of an amazing God who provides, protects, is lavish in surprises and goodness, and is a vast mystery.

Years later, as a young adult, I was drawn to purchase the chambered nautilus shell that remains my symbol for God, the holy one.

The chambers of the shell are held together by the core, the center from which it all flows. Each chamber speaks to me of the various parts of my life where I was led to continue to marvel, sometimes in hindsight but always in awe of the promptings and goodness revealed and experienced.

On each chamber is a marking of a tube that allows for nourishment to flow to and from the core depending on the depth and temperature of the seawater.

So it has been with my life; I know that I can return to one of the channels to reclaim a missed gift or a lost opportunity. So much depends on the depth I am willing to plumb as well as the temperature of what is happening in my life and in our world.

I pray that my wonder adds a measure of wisdom to all that needs healing.

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: How has my image of God or Jesus changed throughout my spiritual life? 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. 

Image above: "Nautilus Sweep," digital artwork by Notre Dame de Namur Sr. Terry Davis. (Courtesy of Sr. Terry Davis)

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