I share a beautiful reflection by a younger sister on the importance of community living, and respect for differences in community.
Holding the Earth as a sacred trust commits us to asking how our decisions and behaviors impact the Earth community. We commit ourselves to simplify our lifestyles through our consumption and waste. Practically speaking, we can actually cut our expenses and resource footprint in half by living in community. The environmental impact of choosing to live singly over group living is huge.
We have committed to deepening our living and contemplation of consecrated life. Part of the radical nature of our lives is the witness of living together in community. Our world, especially in the United States is becoming more and more individualistic. We buck that in living together, in choosing the challenges of rubbing shoulders and the communication and understanding that it requires over the ease of living singly.
Those of us coming to religious life today name the desire to live with others in community as an important component of religious life. Studies show that most women coming to religious life today want to live with others in community. If we are going to be inviting to others, living together with other sisters, having local communities into which women can move, live, pray, eat, and share life is a must.
I see living with others in community as a way that I consciously work towards radical Gospel living on a daily basis. It gives fruit to my prayer, contemplation, and theological reflection shared with others on a daily basis as we pray together. It helps me enter more deeply into the mystery of God as expressed in the diverse and emerging theologies and spiritualities taught and shared with me through those with whom I live. It helps me explore and act upon what it means to be a collegial Church. Living in community helps me take ownership for, join in, and keep generating rituals that reflect the experiences of women and people of diverse cultures. I cannot tell you of the prayer and ritual experiences to which I have been exposed living with our sisters and those who live with us. Living with others calls me to transform my world view and educate myself in ways that challenge my world views. Stories of mission and of the people with whom she worked on the edge are a nightly education that I wouldn't get if I lived alone.
I know that not everyone in my community is looking for this kind of community, but this is my experience and my desire. No experience is right or wrong. They just get us to where we are today and help us make decisions about where we will go tomorrow. Our experiences are different, how we hope and intend to live this life is different, our definition of community is different, etc. I believe that we hold many similarities, or we would not have made the same vows in the same community. It is my hope and my joy that we can honor and support one another, even as we lived our shared vocation in different ways.