Saturday, December 12, 2015

Living and Giving to Community

Living and Giving to Community Through the Appropriate Life Stage

In women’s religious communities, our evolving nature has brought us from Women of Integrity (the Good Sisters) to Women of Justice (Post Vatican II) to the Next (Postmodern/post-postmodern Global Society). With this evolving view comes transition and some need to look at what stages of life are best suited to what tasks of the community. The tasks include caring for aging sisters; divesting of property and ministries; investing in mission leadership for those who will lead continuing ministries; and whether to die or to continue on. For those communities continuing to the Next, there are also the tasks of creating appropriate governance structures for those that will remain in religious life with very few members. Those appropriately assigned with the Next have the tasks of retaining members through the diminishment phases; bringing forth the next iteration of religious life and creating a foundation for future generations (read new membership) to have religious life as an option.
In thinking about appropriate tasks and life stages I wondered, what would a view of community through an ecologically informed (clearly part of the Next) human development model look like? I found such a thing in Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World by Bill Plotkin.
Dr. Plotkin, a psychologist was drawn to connect the psychological journey with the soul journey he experienced as a wilderness guide. He eventually developed the eight stages of eco-soul-centric human development centered on discernment rather than strictly chronological life stages.
While full chapters are available in the book describing each stage, here is a glimpse of the last four stages which have significance for adult communities.

Community Life through an Eco-Soul-Centric Lens

Dr. Plotkin, a psychologist learned to connect the psychological journey with the soul journey he experienced as a wilderness guide. He eventually developed the eight stages of eco-soul-centric human development centered on discernment of gifts rather than strictly chronological life stages. The last four stages have significance for adult communities.
  • Stage 5: Early Adulthood - The Wellspring (Soul Apprentice)
    Gift to Community: Visionary action, hope, and inspiration
  • Stage 6: Late Adulthood - The Wild Orchard (The Artisan)Gift to Community: Seeds of cultural renaissance
  • Stage 7: Early Elderhood - The Grove of Elders (The Master)Gift to Community: Wholeness
  • Stage 8: Late Elderhood - The Mountain Cave (The Sage)Gift to Community: Grace
See the link for more detail.

Questions for consideration:

  • Is there a stage that resonates for you? 
  • Am I engaging with community from my appropriate life stage?  
  • If I understand my life stage in relation to the others, can I give my gift to the community more fully and let others give their gifts?
--Contributed by Susan Wilcox CSJ

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Advent Response to Ilia Delio

I read Ilia Delio's article in GSR entitled Laudato Si' and Vatican III which I would recommend. She points to some fundamental shifts taking place in our world. In this advent time, I welcome the opportunity to enter deeply into the unfolding of time and welcome God's presence in new and more profound ways.
There is a shift in consciousness and this shift calls for a shift a new integration of all the wisdom of all the peoples of the planet. It calls for a council of Parties to address some of the most challenging issues of our day because none of us lives or dies alone.
We live together in our common home, and the actions of each of us effects all of us. This inter-relatedness has always been present, but it is more richly appreciated now than it ever was. Because of this new consciousness, a theology adequate to inspire and inform us in our common home must be a theology that evolves and is proclaimed in harmony with all the wisdom of our common home.
We call out "Come Emmanuel!" Emmanuel means God-With-Us. We invite God who is already here; we invite the presence of the always-already-present-God to invade our consciousness in fresh and more powerful ways. We invite Emmanuel into this world, fraught with violence, economic challenge and environmental degradation. We invite Emmanuel into our world of cold and darkness. We invite Emmanuel to be peace and wholeness and holiness in our midst. We invite Emmanuel to open our eyes to the sacred, to renew in us the call to be co-creators of the universe according to God's original dream for our common home.