MY DREAM WAS MY MISSION
“My dream was to become rich and be financially independent when I would be 50. I had a mentor who became a millionaire and I tried to do what he told me to do to become financially independent. At age 33, I had a dream one night. In it, I saw a bearded Franciscan priest. He told me to go to my church. I said that I didn’t have time because I was working 16 hours a day, seven days a week! He persuaded me and he took me to the church. He opened the door and showed me all the saint statues and angels. All the Franciscan saints were talking to themselves about me. The priest told me that was my mission. I saw women and men who were naked running around. And he said, ‘Come, you are welcome to join us.’ I woke up and I drew what I saw. I showed it to my now brother. It was the most beautiful altar I’ve ever seen. And my brother identified the church as Santa Clara, a church built by a Franciscan priest in the 1800s. From that time on I became very interested in the religious life. I gave up everything just to become a religious.”
I met Father Angelo Beda Ison in Jerusalem where he was living his dream of “guiding Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land.” Father Angelo was living in a 1,000-year-old monastery right inside the Lion’s Gate of the Old City. My producer and friend, Arnie Draiman, saw Father Angelo walking in his brown Franciscan monk’s robe and shared with him about Portraits in Faith. He was an eager and willing participant!
I am now reflecting these many years later on the profound meaning of meeting Father Angelo. First, he was yet another accountant turned theologian! As a former CPA, I always find this quite humorous. Second, Father Angelo’s journey was a complicated back-and-forth circumnavigation of the globe to achieve his dream. He was born in the Philippines, studied and taught in Germany, Israel, Spain, France, the United States, and Egypt before he was finally able to come to Jerusalem as a monk. Third, and most important, before Father Angelo entered religious life, he found himself working “16 hours a day, seven days a week” and had no time for exploring his true calling. This made me think of how much of my life I created busy-ness, or allowed others to create busy-ness for me, versus where I could be contributing most to the universe. It seems to be a delicate balance of the idea that “God uses us wherever we are planted” versus the question, “Where can we be of greatest service?”
My own experience is a bit of both: I did not enjoy my years as a CPA. They were mixed with difficult emotional growth, yet those years were essential to my own maturation and they set me on a spiritual path. I had up years and down years at Procter & Gamble but ultimately my career there flourished and P&G taught me how to be a leader, a teacher, and to love and nurture those I worked with around the globe. My years in Cincinnati brought me into a deep healing journey and I was blessed with best friends and godchildren who taught me that I could love and be loved. I could have never predicted this Portraits in Faith journey coming out of a summer photography workshop that I wasn’t excited about attending but this journey changed my life and taught me to listen and love others for all of who they are. I pray that I am never too busy with worldly matters that I miss the spiritual lessons of where I am and where I am needed most.