Saturday, June 29, 2013

Joy in the Journey

There is a joy in the journey
There's a light we can love on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life And freedom for those who obey....
--Michael Card

Moving forward in community, it is a challenge to take the joys of this day. I make a commitment to the road I am on, rejoicing in the gifts of this moment.

At the same time I reach out to make the dream a reality, inviting others to share in it and rejoicing with those who come to live in hope. The gift of this moment is the broader community that has welcomed me into the neighborhood and ecovillage. Together we are beginning to build a more sustainable life.

At the same time, I am still inviting others who want to live the gospel radically, in the great tradition of religious life, and in the company of countless women and men who have walked this road before us. I live in hope and in the wonder and wildness of this journey. Open to receive the gift of today, and willing to walk courageously into the challenges it offers.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Road Trip

I had an opportunity recently to do a roadtrip with two other sisters from another community who entered religious life the same year I did - 1978. We were all within a few years of the same age. This may seem like a simple thing, but it really was such a great experience.
To put this in context, 95% of religious women in the US are over the age of 60. In my community, I'm almost always the minority in any gathering, and so I usually am out of my comfort zone when we do what's best for most, or talk about what most want to talk about.
I didn't know one sister at all before the trip, and the other I knew just a little. We happened to be heading in the same direction, so we agreed to link up for the trip.
There was an immediate 'at home'-ness as we made our way. We shared a similar connection, a deep, lived commitment to religious life. An understanding that this lived commitment has its ups and downs, but it is deeply enriching.
We remain in the life, even though it is clearly going through a period of decline. We have lost one third of our members in the last decade. We will lose another one third in each of the coming decades, leaving just a remnant in 20 years.
We remain in the life today because we recognize that it is also a time of re-imagining and emergence. Fresh voices are speaking up. We can build on what has been, and call forth new generations of religious life. This will take vision, courage and tenacity. Alone I would not have the strength to go on. But this road trip reminded me I am not alone. In other gatherings of religious in the minority cohort, I know that we are few, but we are called to be members of this generation, with the task of bridging between what was and what is emerging.
Only in God can we continue to walk this road, and in God we can walk with confidence.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Riverside Meditation

This morning I woke up looking over the Ohio River. It is a lovely, peaceful view. When I first woke, the water was glassy still as the current moved slowly down stream. Then little by little, the wind and waves picked up. Still a gentle scene, but the water is more active, the glassy stillness is gone.
It reminds me of my own waking into a place of contemplation in the early morning hours. There is nothing to disturb my quiet resting in the God of Love. Gradually as the day begins, people and events blow over that glassy stillness as I engage the people of God and the things of God.
As the day flows on, I try to let some of that quiet stillness in the God of Love flow through the day, and flow through me into the people and events I encounter.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Moving Forward in Hope

I had the opportunity this past week to participate in a program of the National Religious Vocation Conference. Held in Chicago, it was entitled Moving Forward in Hope. Sr. Mary Johnson SNDdeN gave the input sessions based on her research into the demographics of Catholics and of new entrants into religious life.
Mary's presentations were fascinating, diving deeply into the extensive information that is available, and exploring all that we can know about the present situation of religious life, with a particular emphasis on vocations to religious life.
The take away that I have is that there are lots of young catholic men and women who are deeply committed to the values of the Gospel, to living lives of service, to doing justice, to living sustainably and to developing a deep and nourishing spirituality. The question we all engaged was: how do we as religious women effectively reach out to these women and invite them to consider religious life? I think there are two prongs to this question:
  1. First we who are living religious life seek to provide the opportunity and space within our communities to welcome and nourish prospective members and newer and younger members in religious life. I believe that we do this by living authentically, justly and sustainably in vibrant communities committed to the Gospel.
  2. From this space, we can move out into circles and communities in the wider community, where people are doing justice, living sustainably and committing themselves to spirituality and service. There are lots of communities and groups that are working and living these values. 
Religious life is a particular way of living the Gospel that has enduring validity. Among the various ways of living with integrity and of living the Gospel, religious men and women come together to live simply in mutual interdependence. Vowed life in community is a graced response to the universal call to holiness.
I would invite anyone who feels called to religious life, or to explore a calling to contact me or some other religious community you know. It is a life that can be very enriching to those who live it and to those we serve.
We're initiating a conversation among religious women in their 40s or 50s would like to connect about building a future full of hope. Email me: if you would like to participate in the initial conversation - we're hoping to organize a gathering in summer of 2014.