My 87-year-old friend -- a cloistered nun and artist -- Sister Augustine always told me: "I'm only a messenger."
As I recount in my memoir, Five Years in Heaven: The Unlikely Friendship That Answered Life's Greatest Questions, Sister Augustine showed me the pathway to unlocking my true purpose and finding peace of mind at a crucial crossroads in my life. During our hundreds of visits over five years, no topic was off limits.
Here are 12 lessons from Sister Augustine to help you always find the light in the darkness:
"It's our choice to go over, around, or straight through our problems and fears, and evil itself, that builds courage and helps fortify us against the next challenge. That is what embracing change, even when it's riddled with fear, is all about."
"A closed mind is like giving the Devil a handful of grenades. Unfortunately, he's got a pretty good pitching arm."
Connection to Others
"In God's eyes, we are all equal and precious. We must look at one another with those same eyes. Instead, we too often think with a me-versus-you mentality. That only pushes us farther apart. We should think with an 'us' and 'we' mentality. Us and we, all of us are in this moment and this world together."
"One of the most important things in this life is just showing up. . . . That speaks for itself, where words never could. Just like a smile does."
"I think it's perfectly natural to question God. Even Jesus did that. Doubt and questions are pathways that lead to answers, if you allow them to."
"Forgiveness is not easy. By design, it's not meant to be easy. If it were, it would have little meaning. Yet, it's one of the greatest gifts in this world that we can give to one another, and to ourselves."
The Existence of God
"If the existence of God was as easy as an answer to a yes-or-no question, or someone we could see standing in front of us, there wouldn't be much substance or purpose, now would there?"
"God sees all, so we don't have to be the ones to judge."
"God has His ways. His reasoning may not seem obvious to us at the time, but someday you'll look back and say, 'That's exactly how my life had to happen, good and bad, right down to the second, to get me where I am.'"
"So often these days, people walk around blind when their eyes are wide open. They fail to see what's right in front of them."
Unlocking Our Purpose
"God already knows the potential inside us. It's already there, just where He put it, waiting to be discovered. But it's up to us to figure that out for ourselves and to unlock our purpose, one binding at a time."
"Understanding what makes each religion tick is one of the best ways I know to bring this world together, not to tear it apart with hatred, judgment, ignorance, and war. Unfortunately, many powerful people and whole armies don't get that. But we everyday folks can."