Friday, May 17, 2019

Transferring between Religious Communities

I have heard a good bit lately about Sisters transferring between religious communities. This was a fairly common phenomenon in the 80s and 90s when as many as 1% of women religious had experienced transferring from the religious community they initially joined to another religious community. I think of this as the first wave of transfers after a change in canon law made it a more feasible option. This first wave trailed off after 2000. Many Sisters who transferred during that time are happily in their new communities. During the first wave, there was a program that helped Sisters share their experiences and helped smoothe the path of integration into their new communities. I transferred communities at the end of that first wave and very much appreciated the opportunity to network with other Sisters who were transferring and benefit from their experience and encouragement.
In the past several months, I have heard of several sisters who are considering transfer or who are in the process of transfer. It leads me to wonder whether there might be a desire or a need to provide a forum or program such as was available in the 80s and 90s. If you would be interested in helping to organize such a program, or if you would be interested in participating, please reach out to me and we can move this forward. Please pass this invitation on to others who may be interested.
Peace,
Amy

Friday, May 3, 2019

Authentic Encounter

pocOur local group of vocation directors met for a few days of input, networking, engagement, and planning. Our speaker via video, Dr. Hofsman Ospino, shared rich insights into the place of culture in vocational discernment, and more broadly, its place in our communities, in the church and in society.
Historically, people of color have not received the same opportunities and access that has been afforded to white people. This is true in the wider society and this is something that we are working to dismantle. We do this first of all by becoming aware of our privilege and by taking on new habits of mind and heart. We also do that by seeing and deconstructing societal norms and barriers to people of color. We have a lot of work to do.
In our days together, we focused inward on our church and on our religious communities. How can we be more 'sister' to our sister of color? One of our sisters of color shared her hopes: more than strategies or quick-fixes, she hopes that we can come into a more and more authentic encounter. She hopes that we can truly dialogue with each other and share our community, our spirituality and our struggles for justice.
Amen!

Friday, April 12, 2019

Summer Sisters 2019

Once again this year, I would like to extend the invitation to join in building community with me here in St. Louis, for a period of time during the summer. It can be the experience you seek: Retreat. Sabbath Time. Vacation. R&R. Embodied Commitment to Sustainability. Emersion in an Urban Ecovillage. Nurturing body, spirit, the future of religious life.
We'll have to work around the house schedule which is a little crazy this year - but then when is life not crazy. Let's do what we can.
Here's a link to a prior invitation. If you're interested, drop me a line and we'll talk more.
ALSO - if any women discerning religious life would like to spend several weeks in a live-in experience, let me know and we will see what we can arrange for that too. We have several houses where you might be able to join us.
Amy
www.ahereford.org

Friday, April 5, 2019

Garden of Relationships

In my local community, we have space for a good-sized urban garden. Often, in the cool of the day, my footsteps  take me to the garden to plant and water, tend and harvest the good things of the earth. This is a quiet space, populated by nature’s abundance, wildflowers and berry bushes draw a plethora of activity. Birds and butterflies and all manner of critters share the space. And I do believe that God also strolls in this space in the cool of the day, a witness to the ongoing unfolding of creation and once again pronouncing it “good”.

As we tend the good things of the earth, God is tending us, tending our spirits, watering here, trimming there, mulching abundantly. We are blessed by the blessing we give, we share abundantly in the abundance we plant.

Religious life too is a garden, and in community and in ministry we are called to tend gardens that are not our own. We enter into a rich ecosystem of communities that share the work of filling the earth and stewarding it into that abundance that God called us to be. We are not an isolated species, living out our lives for ourselves. We never were. Today more than ever we are called into relationships of mutual blessing and enrichment. These happen in local communities that are themselves in relationship with other communities in a vast network, a mutually enriching ecosystem of blessing. These overlapping circles of relationship are a characteristic of twenty-first-century society. The resilience of a community comes not from large size and vast wealth but from the depth and breadth of relationships that it nurtures.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Triumph of Tenderness

There is no cathedral so grand as a city bus.
You danced with abandon at the birth of each child of grace.
You sent us forth to wend a way through Eden and through Gethsemani.
And here we gather, each on our way, burdened and blessed,
In this cathedral, cloaked as a city bus.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Life Without Artificial Sweeteners

Many processed foods are sold on the basis of those things that they do not contain: fat-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, etc. Fat, sugar and gluten are natural nutrients that are contained in natural foods. They have gotten a bad rap over the years as our collective waistline expands and we try to limit our food intake. They taste good, but their nutrient value is questionable.
Studies are beginning to show that the substitutes found in processed foods also have negative health effects. So now foods are being sold on the basis of yet more ingredients they don't contain: no artificial sweeteners, no MSG, etc. Take a favorite of mine: no sugar added, no artificial sweeteners, fat-free, gluten-free, no MSG. It's an apple, or a carrot, or any one of a host of naturally occurring foods. Or we could look at the advertising slogan: the incredible, edible egg.
Now let's talk about spirituality. There are lots of artificial ingredients: things, thrills, and superficial relationships, drugs and alcohol. Sure these things will make me happy for a time. But spiritually, they are artificial sweeteners; they taste good but lack nutritional value.
Micah has a recipe for natural, organic, no artificial additives spirituality: Do justice, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God. Again, our CSJ motto: Community, Spirituality and Justice. This needs no artificial sweeteners and delivers simple, wholesome nutrition for our spirit.

Friday, January 18, 2019

A Lifetime of Prayer, Service and Compassionate Encounter


I believe that the ministry of presence, this ministry of encounter, is one of the great gifts of our elder sisters in religious life. With quiet joy after decades of dynamic and faith-filled service, they remind me of the poem the New Collossus by Emma Lazarus (1883) that is cast in bronze at the base of the Statue of Liberty.
[They cry] with silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
These our sisters, walking each other home to heaven, also lend us their gift of a listening ear, a comforting word, a compassionate heart. Hearts formed through a lifetime of prayer, of service, and of compassionate encounter.