A Franciscan friend once relayed a story to me of a time when he was discerning his life’s purpose. He went to his Benedictine mentor, a staunch, serious older gentleman and asked him for help in this discernment. And his mentor said, “Tell me, what is your heart’s deepest desire? Think about this for a week and return to me with your answer.”
My friend went back a week later and gave an answer that was not satisfactory to his mentor. He was instructed to go back, over the next week, and contemplate again on his heart’s deepest desire. He did this for nine weeks in a row, and finally, on the tenth week he returned with the answer of “I want to dance, and I want to invite others to join the dance with me.”
With this answer, the mentor was satisfied. This was his calling. To dance, in the light of Christ, and to invite others to join him in his dance. He knew what his life’s purpose was.
When we were planning our last retreat together, this same friend looked me straight in the eye after relaying this story and said, “Paula, what is your heart’s deepest desire?” He waited a moment and said, “You don’t have to share it with me now, but it is a question worth pondering.” And we sat in silence for a moment, and then returned again to the discussion of our retreat.
I was quite struck by this question, by the frankness of my friend’s words, and of the very stark nature of his inquiry. This was such straight forward question, asked in earnest. And it was probing and intense. What was my heart’s deepest desire? What motivates me?
At this time, my answer is “To share the Love and the Joy of the Creation, and to experience as much of it as I can in my time here.” It is not far from my first answer, which came to mind very quickly after I was first asked the question. That first answer was simply “Love.”
I have a feeling I will ponder this question for some time. I will know when I have settled in to the right answer because I believe it will feel right, and familiar, like warm slippers or a father’s embrace. Or like coming home after a long journey.
So, what is your heart’s deepest desire?