It's been such a busy week that I have not had a moment to sit down and reflect on the 6th annual Edith Stein Project at the University of Notre Dame. This was my first time to attend. It was incredible to see 200 people roaming McKenna Hall, eagerly attending various sessions about authentic femininity, chastity, the nature of vocation and the identity of the human person. There were women and men, married, single and religious, college students, grad students and graduates, professors, pregnancy center employees and perpetual students. Even with such a variety of backgrounds, there was a unity in each person's desire to answer the question, "Who am I?"
While I could write about various sessions, different reflections shared or summaries of each presentation, one thing that most struck me was the witness of the final presenters I heard. Both women were the original founders of the conference. Both were alumni of Notre Dame. Both had been brilliant students, expected to do great things after graduation. But both now confidently shared that the turns on which life has taken them were quite unexpected. One of the young women shared that an illness has inhibited her ability to attend medical school. She is now a middle school teacher in her hometown. It was certainly not the path which she had planned as an ambitious pre-med undergrad.
The other young lady is now a wife and stay-at-home mother of two children. She received her Master's in Theological Studies recently, but her one frenetic lifestyle has had to change in favor of her family. Instead of writing books, planning conferences or leading pro-life organizations, she is spending her days washing the floor, preparing dinner and playing with her children.
What struck me in both women's eloquent examples was their true femininity. Many times in conferences with a theme of womanhood, the various attendees and presenters confidently stride through the halls in professional clothing, with resumes as long as the staircase and aspirations higher than a president's. There is nothing wrong with the clothing, the resumes or the aspirations, but often one is left, unintentionally, with the feeling that a true woman of God must be constantly producing, constantly striving, constantly working in order to be the woman God is calling her to be. What these two women testified to was the beauty of a life lived in receptivity to God's plan -- a plan that may or may not be the one we thought up ourselves. And being present to God and present to those He has placed in our life in this moment is more fruitful, beautiful and life-giving than a focus on success.
After all, as Mother Teresa reminded us, we aren't called to be successful, but to be faithful.