By Sister Michele Morek
Am I writing “backward” reflections? It just occurred to me that – in contrast to other Reflections with Angela that I remember reading – I may be coming in the back door. Most of the other reflections seem to start with a quote or a historical incident in the life of Angela, and go “outwards” from there, but mine usually start from the outside and come in – I start from life experience and then go looking for what Angela might have to say about it.
Here is my theory: it might be an introvert (I) versus extrovert (E) thing.
In a workshop years ago, our community took a Myers-Briggs Personality Test; we learned that the I/E dichotomy is one of the real keys to understanding other people and getting along in a group. I have read that most women religious are introverts – certainly most of our sisters in that workshop were!
Do you get most of your energy from the inside/your interior (Introvert) or are you more energized by realities outside of yourself (extrovert)? As an off-the chart extrovert, I take in things from the outside, bring them in, and look at them.
Hmmmm, I wonder what Angela was? I imagine both the I’s and the E’s would want to claim her. She must have been outgoing – certainly not shy, as she had so many friends, both male and female – and did not hesitate to jump in and give advice to nobility and warring neighbors. (Here she fits my stereotype of extroversion). On the other hand, she was known for her prayerfulness, focus, and wisdom (my stereotype of introverts). My classmates who were introverts always seemed wiser; they figured things out “inside” first, then presented them to the world. My style was to blurt out my half-formed thoughts just to get them “out there” where I could look at them and process them outside of my skull.
So this time, in keeping with my usual backwards strategy, I asked the question, and then looked through Angela’s writings for clues as to whether she was an I or an E. Nothing jumped out at me unless it would be “Do everything with discernment and maturity of judgement” (3rd Counsel) which sounds like an Introvert. On the other hand, she was always saying things like “Go forward” and “Strive” with which I can relate.
Which are your favorite pictures of Angela – the ones showing her praying in her room? I like the ones of her striding forward, pilgrim staff in hand!
And what is your strategy? Do you start with an experience of the world, and find a connection to Angela, or do you find Angela inside and then look out from her eyes to the world? I guess the best of all possible worlds would be to have a healthy balance – the ability to use the tools of the E and I.
But either style is OK! And either style can get you to the place where you can answer the question, “What Would Angela Do?” That question is a handy approach for discernment … I used it once and actually ended up changing my ministry after applying that simple rule.
So, be careful, it could be dangerous to “do as Angela would!”