Monday, June 22, 2009

When you discover your belovedness by God in solitude,
you see the belovedness of other people in community
and can call that beauty forth in ministry.
Henri Nouwen

Wow. It's already been 10 days since I last posted... There's so much to say, though, it seems it's been much longer...

As my last blog indicated, there have been 3 "big" events recently: the Giving Voice conference, my birthday, and the renewal of my vows. And in a funny way, they all connect, in that that they all have called me to deeper reflection on relationships, community life, and the gifts of both.

The weekend of June 11-14 I was in Milwaukee at Alverno College (a small school run by the School Sisters of St. Francis) for Giving Voice. Approximately 60 sisters under the age of 50 gathered - to share insights, discuss our deepest hopes for living community, share stories, and celebrate the life we live. Our presenter, Dr. Louisa Saffiotti spoke with us from the perspective of family systems theory... about what healthy community is and the obstacles to said life. We also had 2 facilitators of conversation - Sr. Maria Cimperman, OSU and Sr. Kathleen Feely, SND. It was a fabulous weekend. Many things to ponder and pray about... and the beginnings of friendships.

I had the chance to meet a few sister bloggers while I was there - Sr. Susan from Musings of a Discerning Woman and a woman just entering her community, Juliet from Seeking Sophie. Sr. Katy from Religious Life Rocks: The Adventures of One Fun Nun was there (as part of the planning team), but I didn't get a chance to really chat with her. Anyway, it was good to meet so many younger women who have decided to take the risk...

After the conference was over, I had the chance to meet up with a friend I hadn't seen in almost 10 years! After college I did a year of volunteer work in a little town in the southwestern part of Texas. I lived with 4 other recent college grads: Nicki from Wisconsin, Amy from Minnesota, Lina from the Bronx, and Julie from northern Kentucky. Julie passed away the year after our volunteer year (non-Hodgkin's lymphoma). Amy was able to make it to my vows last year. Lina and I lost touch a few years ago. Nicki and I have kept in sporadic touch over the years (facebook helps), but I hadn't seen her since she and Amy visited me in San Antonio years ago. Anyway, Nicki now lives in Milwaukee. We only had about 2 hours together, but it was so good to chat and catch up - in person. We decided we shouldn't let nearly 10 years go by without face-to-face time!

So, I returned to San Antonio to face the reality that I hadn't done any of the reading I was supposed to do for class (Principles of Theological Method). Was that a mistake? I'm thinking no. I think relationship building while I was in Milwaukee was the priority. Karl Rahner could wait...

Last Tuesday was my birthday. Can I really be 34 already?! Anyway, I was flooded with facebook messages, e-mails and reminders of people's care and concern for me. It was a little overwhelming, but in a good way. Our community celebrated on Thursday evening... that was nice.

On Friday evening I celebrated with 2 very good friends, Bro. Brandon and Bro. Dennis. We had dinner together and then went out for ice cream and conversation. Since both of them are Marianist brothers we always talk about religious life, the mission of the Marianist family, community, relationships and how God is moving in our lives. We talked for HOURS... I find conversations like that to be life-giving in many ways.

Then, yesterday, in the midst of evening prayer, I renewed my vows in the presence of our San Antonio community, Bro. Brandon, my sister, her granddaughter and a family friend. It was a very simple vespers with a few songs and prayed in choirs. But it was meaningful in many ways, as I'm sure you can imagine. After the prayer service, we had a wonderful meal followed by ice cream and fresh strawberries. It doesn't get much better than that!

And so, it's been days of relationship building, community, and reflecting/sharing on life as a religious in the 21st century. These weeks have called to mind what a blessing the people in my life are and how God often acts in my life through the people around me. I have also reflected on areas of growth in my life in community in balance with how much I have grown in the past year.

I will leave you now. I really should get moving on what will be a full day. I've moved on from Rahner and now am reading David Tracy... certainly not any easier to read!

Many blessings to all who read this!
Sr. N

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Courage, God will work with and for you.
What can we not do with the help of God's grace?...
Walk boldly!
Venerable Mother Adele de Batz de Trenquelleon

Very brief reflection today... I'm writing at the airport... not too long before boarding a flight. I sat down to write yesterday, but really didn't have the focus to say anything. However, I wanted to write before the weekend...

Yesterday the Marianists celebrated the 220th birthday of Mother Adele - foundress of the Marianist Sisters and one of the 3 founders of the Marianist Family. I've written many times about our foundress. One thing I never focused on was the aspect of her spirituality evidenced by the above quote... She was a woman of courage. Not fearlessness, necessarily, but true, virtuous courage. The kind that comes from an unwavering confidence in God. (My flight is starting to board! Soon to go!)

Anyway, I find this an important aspect on which to focus - especially in this week ahead. This weekend I'm attending a conference in Milwaukee - the annual Giving Voice conference (see website below). In Milwaukee many women religious ages 50 & younger will gather to share, pray and discuss community life - now and into the future. Moving forward, through the unknown, in religious life (or any path of life) implies a type of courage that Adele had... rooted in confidence in God's abiding love.

Next Tuesday I will celebrate another birthday... then next weekend I will renew my vows as a Marianist sister. It marks another year, yes, but also are reminders of the faithfulness and trustworthiness of God. Therefore, I can "walk boldly."

Well, I need to shut down now. I will write more after the events of the week...

Many blessings to all who read this!
Sr. N