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Crossing New Thresholds Toward the Horizon

The USA National Conference in Fort Bend, Texas, in 2013 created the beautiful theme of Crossing New Thresholds Toward the Horizon. As seen on the cover of this booklet, the artwork to accompany the theme was painted by Jeff Howell (husband of Fort Bend Theresian Ramah Howell) and is rich in Theresian symbolism. Each of the Five Dimensions is represented by an element in the painting and we want to share this renewed understanding.

Education – The Gate. As Theresians, we stand at a threshold, seeing both the past and the future which lies before us. We see that women of the world and the world itself have changed. We face new challenges, knowing that to grow we must move through the gate of education. This gate gives us options, broadens our perspective, moves us beyond our comfort zones, and calls us to a spirit of openness. As Theresian women, this dimension leads us to an awareness of our role in bringing about change and becoming an effective voice for the voiceless women in our world.

Community – The Beach. The shoreline of our icon is a mixture of sand and pebbles in myriad sizes, shapes, and colors. The sand and pebbles have come from around the world; their beauty is enhanced, as their travels, experiences, and encounters with others shape them and smooth their rough edges, until they become part of our communal beach. We, too, come from across the globe to allow ourselves to become formed in the sacred space that is Theresians. We grow ever more beautiful as, in community, we use our wisdom to discover who we are, uncover our unique gifts, and become a dynamic and effective presence in our world.

Spirituality – The Ocean. Just as we cannot see the entire ocean at once, we experience spirituality in glimpses, while being aware of its vastness. And as is true with the waters of the ocean, within our spirituality there is constant movement. Sometimes this movement is steady and inviting; sometimes it is stormy and frightening. However, ever present is a mysterious depth and peace that somehow connect us all and invite us to immerse ourselves within them. As Theresians, we immerse ourselves in the spiritual waters through St. Thérèse’s Little Way. When Thérèse found the spirituality of her day too vast for her soul, she dove into the ocean of the everyday, offering all of herself and her actions to the Lord. Following her example, we allow the gifts of our baptismal waters to flow into us and through us each day.

Vocation – The Driftwood. Consider the driftwood that has been washed up on the beach. It sits on the sand, waiting to tell a story to those who have ears to listen. Where has it been? What journey brought it to this shore? What is its purpose, its vocation? It begins as a tree, but it is now called to be … what? Who knows what God has planned? As we develop spiritually, we, too, strive to discern our vocation in life. This vocation may change as our lives and circumstances change. Along our journey, our Theresian sisters often serve as lighthouses on the shore of life – beacons who light our way to who we can become, help us discern God’s will, and discover and develop our gifts and talents.

Ministry – The Pelican. Tradition tells us that, in times of famine, a female pelican will draw blood from her own heart to feed her offspring. What a model of selfless ministry! As Theresians, we minister in a similar way, sharing the gift of self with our family, our Theresian sisters, and the world. We give and sustain life, however and wherever God calls us to do so. Ministry is an invitation to live and love with a servant’s heart. It is an invitation to which we respond with a resounding “Yes!” 

By Lynda Knoche, Women at the Well Community, Richmond, Texas