A Bow in God’s Hand

In Inspiration by Anne Duffy

I was cleaning out my bedside table over the weekend and came across a book that was given to me by Murray Bodo, O. F. M. in 1977. I will always cherish this signed copy. I met Murray when he was teaching English at the Franciscan seminary my older brother attended. I was thirteen years old. We have remained close ever since. In fact, he married Tom and me and presided over both my mom and dad’s funerals. He is family.

Have you ever found something that when you reread it, memories came flooding back? Well, finding this book and reflecting on some of the passages brought back memories for me and was good therapy on this rainy day. I would love to share one of the reflections with you as I remember it resonated with me at a time when I needed reassurance in my life that I was not alone and that it is important to trust that everything will be all right if I listen to my heart and continue to be my best and use my gifts. We all have special gifts you know. I encourage you to continue your journey to realize yours and when you do, use them to raise others.

Here is an excerpt from Song of the Sparrow. If you are so inclined print it out and put it by your nightstand. Maybe it will resonate with you.

a bow in god’s hand

There is a point of surrender in our lives that we yearn for and strive for but seldom reach. And that is to turn completely to God and let ourselves go, to be able to put everything in God’s loving hands. This is the final stage of our relationship with God, a relationship which the Greek poet and novelist Nikos Kazantzakis put so succinctly in the autobiographical novel Report of Greco. The book begins with this epigraph:

Three kinds of souls, three prayers:

  1. I am a bow in your hands, Lord. Draw me, lest I rot.
  2. Do not overdraw me, Lord, I shall break.
  3. Overdraw me, Lord, and who cares if I break!

I don’t think these are three kinds of souls necessarily; they are stages in our journey to God. We begin enthusiastically, then we become afraid, then we surrender; and in that surrender we return to our first enthusiasm again. 

Most of the time I find it difficult to pray simply because I am too concerned with my own affairs I insist on setting everything right all by myself. And I see the same fault in so many others. We form a large part of humankind, I’m afraid. If we “have to” do everything ourselves, we do not realize our fundamental dependence on God, and most of our activity is fruitless toil that exhaust us rather than fulfills us. God’s will becomes secondary to our own.  

We must of course, work, but the attitude we bring to work makes all the difference. As Saint Francis admonished his friars, we must work so as not to extinguish the spirit of prayer and holy devotion to which all things must be subservient.

People were always expecting Jesus to be someone other than he was. They thrust their own image of the Messiah upon him and insisted that he be a king like other kings they knew. How much pain and frustration that must have caused him, knowing that he couldn’t be what they wanted him to be. And the more he tried to be who he really was, the more they rejected him and misunderstood him.

We, too, experience this kind of suffering, because we seldom measure up to what others expect us to be. And, as in other experiences of our lives, we know that Jesus has been there before us. And that makes it somehow important that we keep trying to be ourselves. 

As we begin the journey of DeW Life, let us realize that we are not alone. That all women in dentistry are in this together. Being faithful to our core beliefs and sharing our stories with each other is a way to stretch beyond what we think is possible, not only for ourselves but for our profession.

Just DeW it!

—Anne Duffy, President/Founder DeW Life