Friday, December 28, 2018

Bloom Where We Are Planted


In nature, plants grow and are nourished by their interactions with the climate and the ecosystem. Some species will thrive, despite occasional challenges and stresses. Others will not be able to make it in that particular ecosystem, in that micro-climate. For me, this is an image of vocation. God calls us by creating us in Love to be persons who thrive in the vocation we call religious life. The climate of the life, its vows, its ministry, its spirituality all conspire for our growth. The ecosystem, our sisters, our community, those with whom and for whom we serve, support and challenge us to become the best of God's dream for us. As we grow in our vocation, our roots sink deeper and deeper into the soil of God, community and mission. We grow more resilient to face the inevitable challenges that come.
The journey of vocation discernment and of initial formation is a time to find that place God has called us and to learn to "bloom where we are planted." Once we are permanently professed, we have a certain groundedness, yet life continues to unfold and challenge us. May we be a blessing to one another on this journey.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Pondering the Journey

I've been pondering the journey from outside a religious community to inside a religious community.
Vocation discernment is the name we generally give to the stages of inquiry and getting to know the community and eventually deciding to join.
Formation is the name we give to the process of entering a community, in continued discernment, through a series of stages (candidate, novice, temporary profession) becoming a member of the community.
The whole process of vocation/formation usually takes about a decade. It may be a little longer for some and a little shorter for others. There's no prize for finishing earlier or later. It's just a matter of each person getting what she or he needs, and the community coming to know the person. Increasingly both the candidate and the community see one another as part of the same group or tribe, part of the same community.
Along the way, there are various people and experiences there to facilitate the process. In my community, we've been pondering how this happens in the most holistic way. As more and more people in the community play roles in the vocation/formation process, we have had more conversations about the new model we are trying to develop.
In prayer this morning, pondering our conversation, I came to this. Each of us is a Sister of St. Joseph, and each of us is a sister in a unique way, though we share the common call and charism. The candidate is who she is and she would like to become a sister too. The candidate brings a lifetime of experience in being the best of herself. We bring our experiences of being the best of ourselves, and our commitment to accompany others into the community.
I am reminded of the poem Two Roads Diverge in a Yellow Wood... In the case of vocation/formation journey, two roads converge in that yellow wood.
As I ponder this journey, I wait in joyful hope that we can balance these elements in a holistic and life-giving way.
Amen,
Amy

Friday, November 30, 2018

Hope

As we move through advent, the growing light renews our hope in Immanuel - God-with-us.
Over and over in the scriptures, we hear the words "do not be afraid," and usually those words are followed by the reassurance: "I am with you." If God is for us, who can be against.
I find the presence of God in the flickering candles on the advent wreath that dare to pierce the darkness. I find the presence of God in the flickering of hope in the dark places in my own life. I find the presence of God in the stirring of embers long grown cold, in the random acts of kindness by friend and strangers. I find the presence of God in the whispers of goodness that abound in this particular season.
I find the presence of God in the growing solidarity of people to work for the coming of Immanuel, for the coming of peace to every corner of our weary world, for the coming of hope and justice, for the coming of joy to longing hearts.
Peace,
Amy

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Hardwired for Community

I just read Sebastian Junger's Tribe. I had a little problem with the many illustrations from the military. However the book highlights the basic human instinct for community. He describes our current society's loss of community.
Junger cites our evolutionary adaptation to tribal living. Tribes gathered because the prehistoric world was terribly inhospitable. A single individual could hardly survive in that world. People come together to share life together, to support one another, to need others and to be needed by them. We are evolved to cooperate and support one another.
Our current society tends to isolate us into individuals and this isolation is in deep conflict with our fundamental sense of well-being.
The beauty and the tragedy of the modern world is that it eliminates many situations that require people to demonstrate a commitment to the collective good.
Religious communities tap into this deep human need and help us to live more healthy and well adjusted lives. Community is also a challenge - it demands that we face the consequences of our choices - both good and bad.
Much of this book's message resonates with my own experience of community which has been such a blessing as well as a challenge to personal growth over the years.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Hope

Related imageHope is grace that loves the future and sees its destiny in the heart of God. Hope reaches into the future, stretches out its fingers... reaching, yearning, quietly knowing. Hope looks out into the foggy coming days, smiles and says yes.
When I read the news, hear stories of corruption and oppression, news of natural disaster and suffering, it is not easy to hope. But somehow it is still right. Current events call me to resolute action. I cannot change all that I hear of, but I can do my one small part in my one small corner.
Hope is a choice to see the movements of grace in times of darkness and challenge. Hope is more than optimism, it is a firm trust in God's commitment that we "have life and have it to the full."
Hope is not hope if its object is seen, if we are already in the promised land. Hope is the belief that there is a promised land, and that God has made us for this promised land and will journey with us until we reach it.
Hope itself is a promised land. It is a place of joy and courage in the midst of darkness and suffering.
God grant us hope for our journey!
Peace,
Amy

Friday, October 12, 2018

Convent Camino

Image result for camino backpack, shoes, staffWe are again inviting women to join us on a Convent Camino - a journey of discernment that will take us to several convents in the St. Louis area. More information here.
The notion of Camino is taken from the Camino de Santiago, a traditional pilgrimage across southern France into Spain. For over a thousand years, pilgrims have made this journey through nature, leaving aside their daily cares to live simply, to hike in nature, to deepen their spirituality, to discover their deepest desire and their life's purpose.
The Camino is an apt image for the vocational discernment journey. It requires discerners to undertake a long and arduous journey with their God. It is a journey filled with expansive vistas and deep personal challenges, with the tenderest blessings of joy and with the sorrows of unknowing. Yet it is a journey, we move along through life, as we move through the discernment. We can rely on God as our guide and companion on the Camino of life and the Camino of vocation.
Please pray with and for those who will join the Convent Camino. And consider inviting women who may have a vocation to religious life.
Peace,
Amy

Friday, September 21, 2018

My Deepest Truth


There is a quote that is making its round on the internet these days:
Vocation means fulfilling the original self-hood given me at birth by God
Thomas Merton
So true! Vocation can seem to be a new path and a grand adventure. Yet at the same time, it is a matter of discovering my own deepest truth, it is discovering a new and delightful aspect of what God has made me to be. And this never grows old. It is sometime that I can marvel at today, after decades in religious life, just like I could marvel at it in the heady wonder when I first sensed the call. Again today, I whisper: "Amen!"
--Am
y