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.