All of life is merely a spiritual journey towards our ultimate home and eternity with the Triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) in heaven. Along the way, we experience a variety of conditions, struggles and opportunities for personal growth, or what I like to call spiritual stretching. Do you find yourself at such a moment? Are you feeling stretched, challenged, exhausted and/or in need of rest? If so, please join me on a spiritual safari to the eastern region of Borneo and Sumatra as we search for sure footing, and the guidance and rest only God can provide.
Three weeks ago, as I packed for my much-needed three-week adventure in the far-off region of Borneo and Sumatra, I felt simultaneously excited and slightly apprehensive, given the spiritual exhilaration I had experienced that prior weekend. That Saturday in New Orleans, I was emcee at the second Louisiana WINE (Women In the New Evangelization) Catholic Women’s Conference, entitled, “An Anchor of Hope.” WINE is all about gathering, nurturing and sending forth women of faith. Like God, WINE recognizes the beauty, unity and diversity found within the One Body of Christ. Over three hundred strong, each offered their unique sorrows, joys, hopes and dreams, and found the Lord’s consolation and hope along the way. Our day was filled with powerful testimonies, praise and worship, Eucharistic Adoration, Confessions, and prayer. Fortified and united, we offered a single hymn of praise to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Additionally, the Conference marked the opening release of my newly published, three-year in the making book entitled, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Trinity of Love.
“Where do I go from here, God?” I thought, as I packed for my upcoming trip. After all, the last three years had been very spiritually productive, as I felt personally led by God to write, edit and publish my new book and spiritual testimony detailing His powerful, healing presence in my life. Now, however, with my divine directive less clear, I somehow felt unsure in His intentional vagueness. Puzzled, I somehow sensed that the Lord was not wanting a clear goal, but a simple act of surrender, as I learned to take one, faith filled step forward at a time. Unlike much of my spiritual journey to date, I would simply be a vehicle of faith, as the Holy Spirit did the driving. And so, I continued packing, taking along my personal articles, spiritual trust and openness.
I left the states with high hopes of seeing an orangutan. I arrived in the isles of Asia and found so much more. Malaysia’s Northern Borneo is not only diverse in its natural beauty, but also in its cultural and religious practices. It is home to a vast array of wildlife, including the majestic orangutan. Two days into my trip, I stood motionless as I stared at a suspended, swinging bridge keeping me from my promised sighting. Pausing, I wondered if I could overcome my fear of heights, propensity towards motion sickness, and ultimately make the two-hundred-foot river crossing. Determined to see these beautiful creatures, I focused on the forest’s edge, gripped the side guide ropes, and took my first step forward. After that, I did the same again and again until I finally made my way across the bridge. Despite the unpredictable swaying, wobbly boards, and sound of rushing water below, I eventually made it to the natural beauty and awaiting orangs.
Orangutans: Did you know that these majestic animals contain over 96.3% of human genetics? Over the next two weeks, as I watched the eating habits, maternal instincts, and patient endurance of many orangs, I found this fact very believable. Despite our similarities, however, one sure thing sets us apart. Humans are made in the very image and likeness of God, made to give Him praise and to testify to the good news of our salvation through Christ. This, the Church has done, even on the far-off island of Borneo.
The northern part of Borneo, where my husband and I spent much of our time, is 80% Christian. It represents a spiritual oasis of sorts amidst Malaysia’s many faith traditions, including Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. One Saturday night, in the small Sumatran town of Metro City, we managed to find The Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church, and joyfully joined our brothers and sisters in Christ at Mass. It was a beautiful celebration, as our Spanish born priest united his diverse congregation into one united song of praise and thanksgiving. There, like the women gathered at the WINE Conference two weeks earlier, we found the transformative power of the Holy Spirit and Eucharistic presence of our Lord. Despite the language barrier and two-hour night drive over a long and bumpy road, the Spirit led Tom and I to our spiritual home away from home, to the diversely beautiful and unified Church or Body of Christ. The Holy Spirit is quite the guide, no matter what life circumstance or location you find yourself in. Therefore, from now on, I plan to let Him do the driving as I sit back and enjoy the ride. Hope you can do the same. Come, Holy Spirit, come and make me a vessel of your love. Amen
My new book, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Trinity of Love, is now available for purchase at amazon.com or at my online web store: spiritualsafariguide.com. The accompanying personal reflective journal can only be purchased online at spiritulsafariguide.com. Hope you enjoy my story and that you encounter the amazing love and mercy of the Triune God within its pages! Thank you, Karen Schwaner Sheehy
Closing 3:00 Prayer for Divine Mercy.
For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the entire world. (Repeat two more times).