45 years old; Secondary school teacher; The Czech Republic;
Secular Institute of Our Lady of Schoenstatt
Being a woman has been an issue for me since childhood. I was born as a third daughter and somehow unconsciously I felt a slight pressure: “Too bad it wasn’t a boy”. I spent a lot of time with my cousin, who was of a similar age, and I wanted to be like him. Once I threw away my golden earrings just to be more like a boy. Or another time – when I was five years old – I came back from holidays at my aunt’s with very short hair and the answer that I wanted to look like my cousin. But this phase was quickly over and later I enjoyed being a woman.
I studied at a secondary school for fashion where there were lots of girls. We had a lot of fun together. “Women’s collectives” have been with me ever since.
Although I felt good in these “women’s collectives”, I often resisted the “superficial side” in a woman, also in me. I wanted to be a woman who, of course, pays attention to her outward appearance, that’s why I was attracted by such a school, but she should look for a proper balance with the interior. I wanted to be a woman, ready for development in different directions and above all open to adventure. This was the reason why I changed the professional orientation of my studies and studied at the University of Education. At that time I clearly realized that I wanted to work with people. Above all, I wanted to accompany young people by contributing to their education and the development of their inner values. I did not want to work only for appearance and clothing – which of course has its meaning too.
During this time I also had the most important experience with God. It was the time after 40 years of the communist regime. There was a political change in the Czech Republic. In freedom we could now practice our faith. In our parish a small youth group was formed, which honestly searched for God. Through a young priest who had just come in the parish and who belonged to Schoenstatt, we opened ourselves completely to Schoenstatt and its world. Our hearts were inflamed. We could experience a special acting of the Holy Spirit during these years. For me, God’s love was so present and real through the experiences in this group with its ideals that this later led to my decision for a consecrated life in the community of Ladies of Schoenstatt.
Until today, I mostly experience God in situations where I cannot do anything myself. When I do not see the way and I must blindly trust. Very often I experience then that a solution could be found without much effort on my part. Through such events I learn again and again to remain calm.
Here is a small example: all year long I was looking for a meadow for our camp. Finally I succeeded, a meadow was found and we could prepare for the summer camp. One week before the start of the summer camp I learned that the owner of the meadow did not agree after all and would not allow the camp. A pat situation! We had already bought the food and prepared all kinds of things. “Dear God, what should I do now?” I felt completely helpless, because I knew how difficult it was to find a meadow in this term. In my helplessness I visited my co-sister at her workplace and told her about the difficult situation. Her colleague listened and forwarded me a contact. To my surprise, the man on the other side of the phone was ready to help us. The same day we even had a better meadow with a better equipped camp. Such experiences are for me always proof that I am not alone and that God cares for me like my father.
In my opinion, the challenge for women today varies according to age.
I notice that it is difficult for young women to find their own place in life. There are so many opportunities to get involved in different areas that in the end a young woman does not know what is best for her. And when she realizes it, it is difficult to choose, because she does not want to miss anything. This applies to situations in everyday life as well as to important life decisions.
The middle generation faces similar challenges. Women of this generation – mostly mothers and working women – are often exhausted. There is hardly any time or space left for the soul and the cultivation of relationships, which are very important and enriching for their lives. Women have to learn not to be part of everything and be everywhere. They have to resist the demand and pressure to want to manage everything. Father Kentenich said, “A great person lives from a great thought.” This sentence has always impressed me because I myself feel the challenge to concentrate on what is really important in life.
In my youth I believed that I could change many things in the world. However, I learned that it is actually rather the small things that I can influence. For several years I have been working with girls within the Schoenstatt Movement. I see my task in helping young women to have a space where they can feel good and free and where they can discover and develop their „self“, especially their identity as a woman. Because I myself have experienced how important this time was to find orientation for my life, I try to make this possible for the girls through organizing various events. Although sometimes it is not easy to arrange everything – what carries me and always encourages me – is the beautiful, tender and cheerful atmosphere that is created between the girls at such meetings. And I am convinced that the Blessed Mother is behind it. One does not have to talk much about her. SHE is there and her presence is tangible and formative.
It is interesting for me now to recall a game I played in my childhood: once during the holidays with my sisters we drew more than 100 young women. Each had a name, character, her history, problems and dreams. We spent a lot of time talking about these hundred women and identifying relationships between them.
In the meantime I think, maybe this game back then was already a sign for a future task of mine.
In any case, I remembered it in connection with the project “100 Women” in Schoenstatt.