A couple of years ago I went for mass on a Saturday evening, and while I don’t remember much about that mass, two things stuck in my mind: the priest who celebrated that mass, and what he said. The reason I remember that priest, is because a few months after that Saturday, he got kicked out of priesthood by the Pope because of involving himself in some very shady business.
That notwithstanding, I remember the theme of his sermon that evening, because though his personal conduct said otherwise, his words made so much sense. “The Holy Spirit speaks to each one of us,” he’d said. “The only difference is, not all of us choose to listen”.
“Today is Saturday, yet you’re here, when you could be out there doing something else, like watching a game or relaxing after a busy week. Why did you come to church?” He’d asked.
He went on to explain how God talks to every one of us. “That nagging voice in your head telling you not to do something because it’s wrong…or the persistent voice telling you do to something because it’s the right thing, however hesitant you feel about it? That’s God talking to you, through your conscience. Difference is, some of us choose to ignore that voice”.
As he continued talking, I realized how right he was. I hear that voice too, and while sometimes I listen, sometimes I don’t. Lately I have been thinking an awful lot about that. This rumination has been brought on by an unpleasant encounter my big sister has had with one of her former lecturers.
Three years ago, my sister graduated with a Masters degree, then this year she decided to further her studies and she went on to identify the university she wanted to do her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) studies in. One of the application requirements is that two referees submit letters of recommendation in her favour.
Given how active she was in school, it didn’t take her long to identify her two referees. She talked to both of them, and they were glad to write her the recommendation. As procedure demands, she went on to submit the names of her two referees, and the university sent them the submission links.
However, something interesting happened. Of the two lecturers, one of them ‘got cold feet’, and decided to bail on my sister. We’ve tried coming up with some rational explanations as to why she’d bail last minute, but we haven’t been able to come up with anything reasonable.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m attributing her hesitance to one unsightly reason; jealousy. See this lecturer is a doctor (PhD) herself, and up until recently, she was so fond of my sister. She even referred to her with very sweet endearments. She came off as motherly.
She always told my sister how smart she was, then this one time she found my sister in class reading and she was like, “I wish my children read as much as you do”. My sister was one of her favourite students. Then going by the date the other referee rung my sis confirming he’d received the link from the University, this one turned hostile.
Firstly, she never called to confirm she had received the link; and secondly, when my sis called to ask about it a few days later because the submission deadline was fast approaching, she said she had not received the link and she frostily asked my sis to stop nagging her.
My guess is, it had not occurred to her what university my sister was applying to, but when she received a link from the acclaimed prestigious university, it dawned on her that my sister wouldn’t just be getting her PhD from any local university, but from an internationally renowned institution. Like I said before, maybe I’m wrong, and it’s just my mind working overtime.
Frustrated, my sis sought further directions from the University and they said they don’t resend links, but they kindly gave her an alternative email address where the letter of recommendation can be sent. Subsequently, she texted the lecturer, asking if it was ok to call because she figured the lecturer could be having a class. Obviously, the lecturer did not reply.
Later in the evening, my sis called her, hoping she would pick up at least. She did. Nonetheless, she only shouted icily, “I’m in class!” And that was the end of it. Now my sis is stranded… Time’s ticking…every item on the application list has been checked, except that lecturer’s recommendation letter. Worse still, now we’re worried what kind of recommendation she would make, given how she seems to abhor my sister; for reasons best known to her.
This had me thinking… it is true what people say, “Women are their own worst enemies”. The way I see it, this lecturer would have been so ready to write a letter of recommendation if it was not being addressed to some fancy institution. However, it appears she just can’t stand the thought of someone else going to possibly a better institution than she did, and to get a PhD, like her.
Furthermore, this has me wondering whether her conscience is ok with what she is doing. Is she suppressing that inner voice telling her what she’s doing to my sister is wrong? When my sister called, why didn’t she call back later if she knew she was genuinely held up? If she really is telling the truth about not having received the link, wouldn’t she be the one asking my sister for alternatives if she really wanted to help?
From a lawyer’s perspective, her actions are screaming, ‘Consciousness of guilt!’ That’s a concept in criminal law where, someone runs when they see police officers even if the officers are not necessarily after them because deep down they know they are doing something unlawful, so they might get arrested. It is tacit self-incrimination.
There’s that saying, “A candle does not lose its light by lighting another candle”. I couldn’t agree more. We don’t lose anything by helping others.