Overflowing Gratitude

By Sister Nancy Pawlen

“The great use of life is to spend it for something which outlasts it.” — William James(1842-1910), Father of American Psychology 

sister-nancy-pawlen1As a young Sister working on my B.S. in Elementary Education (from 1965-1970), I was very much drawn to that quote. Reflecting on its meaning, I thought that its truth connected well with Jesus’ words: “Whoever loses his life for my sake will find life.” (Matthew, 16:25)

Throughout my 50 years as an Ursuline, that quote by James and the words of Jesus have been key parts of my automatic guidance system — inspiring and encouraging me in all circumstances.

Of course, there are other significant aspects of my life’s guidance system: St. Angela’s life and words,
the examples of the saints, contemporaries who “pay it forward,” the unconditional love of family and friends, and the gift of my Ursuline Sisters, who share life and ministry with me.

How can I not be filled with overflowing gratitude as I live this Jubilee year? I remember the children I taught in my 40+ years in education. I see the faces of teachers and music ministers with whom I served. I delight in looking through photos of past achievements, celebrations, and times of vacation. In my imagination, I hear the voices of those who taught or affirmed me.

Some people have remarked that I have given up so much to live the calling of an Ursuline Sister. Looking back 50 years, I’d have to say that the blessings Jesus promised those who give up so much for “his sake” certainly have been bestowed upon me.

In spending my life for others, God has given me the “abundant life” in the here and now. What a wonderful foretaste of that which is to come!