Friday, July 27, 2018

Blessing and Challenge of Community

There is a lot of writing and reflection on community. Those of us in religious life spend a life-time learning, un-learning and re-learning how to live in community. More recently, I've been thinking about we welcome others into our communities. How do we invite them? How do we change when we invite others to join us? How do we create the conditions for others to thrive when they join our communities. Here are the ingredients that are particularly important to me at this time:

  • Conversion - unquestionably the most important part of any christian community is the commitment of each person to live the Gospel and to grow in a personal commitment to metanoia. This is the work and the gift of a life-time and we in religious life share this journey with others who are striving in the same way.
  • Maturity - along with spiritual growth, we make a commitment to live as adults in community. Sure, things get crazy. Sure, we make mistakes. Sure, we have to navigate what it means. And in the midst of this, each of us should be striving to live as mature persons, taking responsibility for our own lives and well-being, while supporting others in community. 
  • Acceptance and Respect - the first two elements focused inward, this one focuses outward. I have to love and respect each other person in my community. I have to believe in her journey of conversion and maturity and to support that journey. This is not a polly-anna belief, but a humble acknowledgement that we all struggle. I have to cut others the slack I would have them give to me. I have to give them the space to grow and change. 
  • Responsibility - everyone in the community has the responsibility for the community. Every one of us can make the community better or worse by our participation. In the best of communities, everyone wants to contribute because they believe others are giving as well. 
  • Commitment - this is the glue that binds us together. I can count on your commitment, you can count on mine. The commitment is respectful and realistic. And it knows when to go the extra mile for a sister or brother who needs us. Differences arise, conflicts come. If we all have the commitment to make the community work, we can get through almost anything. This is presuming the previous elements are also in place.
  • Conversion - I have to put this at the end as well. I always have to come back to my personal commitment to God, community and mission. I have to rely on God's creative love that brought me this far to continue to re-create that divine spirit within me and within my community.
Let us be hopeful and thankful for the gift of community.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Sister with... Sister for...

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I was recently with a group of sisters reflecting on the gift of religious life as it is and it is unfolding among us. We had a rather well-known presenter had lots of things I resonated with, other things that I completely disagree with. We also had an opportunity to discuss what we heard and reflect it through our own experience. This conversation was really the best part of our gathering and the part that will continue to resonate with me.
I believe that we are called as religious women to be "sisters with" one another 
  • as we walk the spiritual journey over a life time.  
  • as we live together in community through the best of times and the worst of time
  • as we hear and respond to the cry of the poor and marginalized.
At the same time, we are called to be "sisters for" all the people of the world, for the community of faith, to those who need 
  • a prayer, 
  • a smile, 
  • an embrace.
I believe that vowed life in community enables us to be persons who can be sisters, to have a freedom and mutuality with and for each other, and with and for those we serve. It enables to be sisters, companions and friends.

  • I experience being sister in my family of origin. 
  • I experience being sister in my religious community. 
  • I experience being sister to the women with whom I live. 
  • I experience being sister to religious men and women that I serve in my ministry. 
  • I experience being sister to those sitting with me on the bus. 
  • I experience being sister in the ecovillage where I live. 
  • I experience being sister along side those with whom I march, protest and stand in solidarity.
It has been a gift to me to live into this reality.