Saturday, August 31, 2013

Facebook is the cotton candy version of life...

 I know very well that Facebook is the cotton candy version of life --- sweet, fluffy and insubstantial ---- and will make you nauseous if you consume too much. (Jess Hoskins) 
Jess was responding to this post:
Lately I keep hearing friends tell me how depressed they get scrolling through their Facebook feeds. It’s pretty impossible not to compare your life to the lives of other people as you glance at smiling vacation photos, people who look blissfully in love, people portraying the most gorgeous, happy and fun parts of their lives.  .... No matter how “perfect” someone’s life looks on social media, or when you see someone walking down the street, you never know what someone is going through..... Read more...
Thanks Jenny! I think that it's great that we are positive in our dealings with one another. I believe that life has its challenges and I've made a deliberate choice to see things as half-full, though I often have to remind myself when I get into a half-empty mindset.

For me, prayer is spending time in "God-space." Spending time in space where God is God and I try to let God's perspective pervade my own. I think that God space helps me to re-focus and re-commit to that half-full mentality.

Today in religious life, we are at a crossroads.
There are lots of shifts. There are lots of challenges, There is lots of letting go.
There are also lots of jobs well done. There are lots of opportunities for wider involvement. There are lots of openings and new possibilities. 
Thanks for the reminder that life is a mixture of ups and downs. The good-old-days had the same mix of opportunities and challenges, riches and poverty.  

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. -- ML King
As we move toward the anniversary of the March on Washington, these words of Martin Luther King come to mind. They seem capture my thoughts as many sisters come away from our chapters and assemblies.
For those not in religious communities, "chapters and assemblies" is nun-speak community meetings in which sisters gather from all parts of the congregation to celebrate unity in charity, to discuss important issues in the life and mission of the community and to elect leadership. They are organized to encourage and facilitate the broadest possible participation.
We have prayed and celebrated, we have faced the challenging truth of our present reality and we have struggled with deep questions: what does it look like to live the Gospel right here and right now as a Sister of St. Joseph, or St. Francis or Mercy, or.....

And in the light of this moment, I hear the words of Martin Luther King. And I take on the challenge of living the Gospel today - this day - right now.

We have big issues facing us. The next 10 to 15 years of religious life will be a time of continuing to mourn the passing of the largest groups to enter our congregations and serve the people of God for generations.

At the same time, there is a new energy emerging. I see it, I hear it, I feel a rising hope. This is a hope that rebels against despair. It is a hope that does not wait for change to roll in on the wheels of inevitability. It is a hope that accepts the challenge of continuous struggle. This is the hope that has been the mainstay of religious life through the ages, and the keystone of Gospel living for everyone.

For me this means choosing joy, when life is not giving rainbows... choosing joy because of the God who is joy and love even in the midst of challenge and pain. This keeps me saying yes to God and choosing life, choosing green, choosing community.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Musings of a Discerning Woman: Losing Voice

Musings of a Discerning Woman: Losing Voice: Well, irony of all ironies, I am headed to a conference of 800+ women religious leaders to tell them the good news of younger women religiou...

Musings of a Discerning Woman: Sharing Voice: GV Booth at LCWR My 2013 visit to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious Assembly representing Giving Voice is complete! And given...

Saturday, August 10, 2013

... the Bee, the Butterfly and the Breeze

In the name of the Bee -
And of the Butterfly -
And of the Breeze - Amen!

Sitting in the garden, in the quiet of the morning, the short poem of Emily Dickinson came to mind. How lovely and gentle the dynamism of the morning! The energetic, creative bee. The whimsical butterfly, symbol of resurrection. The breeze that blows where it will. We hear the sound it makes, but do not know where it comes from, nor where it goes. All of this brings to my wakening mind and heart the image of the Trinity: energetic and creative, whimsical and re-creative, and the inviting, surprising spirit that brings gifts and energy as a new day dawns.

Here I work in the soil and labor to heal the space and here God works in the soil of my life and labors to heal my own space, plant seeds and bring new life. And Emily's prayer seems to speak of that cycle of life and blessing.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Emerging Religious Life

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...
Religious life in the US today is at an important place within the life of the church and within the life cycles of many institutes. For many women's communities, the median age is approaching 80 years of age, nearly the life expectancy of women in this country; men's communities are generally a little better off. Given this reality, some communities are coming to realize that they likely have, at most, one or two more cycles of leadership (usually 4-6 year terms) before the matter becomes critical. Then there will be neither time nor a critical mass of members able to make decisions, get the affairs of the community in order, and ensure the dignity of their final years and legacy. While some communities will continue , many communities are approaching their historical completion as institutions, they are likely writing the last chapter of their life-story, whether they realize it or not. This will require some realistic and careful planning to prepare for this phase of the life journey and to fulfill it with dignity.
This is the work of the large dominant cohort,  work which will ensure that the last chapter of their community's history is as compelling and grace-filled as was the first chapter and every chapter in between. It is immensely important work, and it is necessary to ensure the legacy of the community, allowing members the ability  to make their own choices in this regard, and to live this phase in a way that does honor to their heritage.
If this is not the final generation of the community, for many, it is nevertheless a time when the majority of community members will have moved from active ministry to the ministry of elderhood which is more focused on prayer and presence than on carrying the responsibilities of active ministry. This too will require careful though and transition.
This task is the focus of the Covenant Project workshops which are being held both online and on-ground as well as other similar programs.
There remains another task of religious life today, often the task of the minority of younger members in our congregations. From the midst of the current communities, members wish to remain in relationships with their sisters and are ready to support them in their work and bless them on their journey. However, this group has another task: to imagine the future of religious life in the next fifty years. We are committed to doing honor to our heritage, and to making choices to adapt the life to the new reality in which we find ourselves.

As we move forward with the transformation of religious life, we need to examine those elements of structure that will assist us in our journey, and those elements that are holding us back. How might we imagine a way to free the emerging energy in religious life to explore new paths? How are we creating spaces for this in our midst today?