There is gift in the gathering.
Hi. Here I am... still around... still not blogging very often. :) Again, it's been nearly a month. There's been a lot happening in the month gone by... Suffice it to say, this is one whirlwind summer!!! Where do I start? Well, I'll give you a brief synopsis of what's been going on... then a few reflections...
In the 2 weeks following my last post, I started an independent study in canon law... turned 35 (!)... traveled to north Texas for a wedding... traveled to the Woodlands, TX to visit with a friend... and renewed my vows. I've never seen 2 weeks go by so quickly!
The canon law course was a complete surprise for me. I came to Texas expecting to take a 2-week long Scripture course on the Synoptics. Well, that was not to be. Last night I completed a 23 page rough draft of a research paper. The paper is due in August. ... My birthday was pretty low-key. I had dinner with a friend (with whom I've been friends since we were 14), his wife and their two children. The Sisters and I celebrated the night before with a nice seafood meal and lots of laughter. I celebrated the day after my birthday with the Casa Maria Marianist Community... Then, the next day, I was off to the wedding. I traveled north about 5 hours from San Antonio with a good friend who is a Marianist brother. We had a fun and completely
unproductive few days. The wedding was beautiful and the reception was fun. ... Then, it was San Antonio for 1 day and off to the Woodlands to visit another friend with whom I've been close since we were 14. She was there for a conference. So, I kept her hotel room company (working on readings in canon law) during the day and we spent time together in the evenings. I got back to San Antonio just in time for a conference call for Marianist LIFE, a working dinner (for LIFE) and then the renewal of vows on June 26.
On June 27 I traveled to Louisville, KY... I was there until July 4. You may ask, "Why Louisville?" And why was I there for an entire week??
Sunday June 27 - Tuesday July 29 was a program called "Stella Maris." It is a formation program for those of us who are temporary professed Marianists. We were assigned some readings prior to our gathering - readings on our charism, history, mission and life in Marianist community. During the days that we were together we shared with each other the fruits of our reading and prayer. We talked about community life... our mission as Marianists... the role of Mary in our lives... We shared prayer... and we had a lot of good conversations.
On Wednesday July 30 approximately 300 Marianists brothers & priests, 20 or so Lay Marianists, and 2 other Marianist sisters descended upon Louisville (and our barely large enough hotel) for the brothers' assembly - "Gather at the River." The assembly had many purposes. One purpose was to install the new provincial council. Another was to embrace the new strategic plan for the province - Vision 2020. Lastly, it's good for this group to gather - to share conversation about important things (and some not so "important") - to pray together - and to celebrate together.
You may ask why I was present for the brothers' assembly. Well... back in April the planning committee for the gathering asked me to be on a panel that would address the group. Each day during the assembly there were two panel presentations about different elements of Vision 2020. I was part of the final panel on partnership within the Marianist family. That was daunting! Luckily, several of my friends were on panels in the days prior and helped me feel a little more okay with it... and I think it went okay.
These few days since I've been back in San Antonio, I've been holed up in my room working on that crazy canon law paper. The due date on the rough draft is next week. Luckily, it's done. This afternoon I am going to Austin to visit with family. I finally get to see my dad, older sister, niece, nephew etc. When I get back, it'll be 3 days before work for LIFE South begins... Then, back to Dayton 3 weeks from now!
Okay. That wasn't exactly a brief synopsis of anything, was it. :) It's so hard to be brief when life is so full! I'll try to be brief in my reflection...
I've been thinking a lot lately about friendship... and about the vows I renewed last month. If a person is called to live a life of poverty, chastity, and obedience (and stability, in my case), then the vows allow the person to grow in the capacity to love - love God, others, and self. However, the paradox of that is that it is a somewhat solitary life. When it comes to building and sustaining relationships, a vowed religious is called to love broadly... not exclusively any one person or group of people. So, what does that mean practically???
Well... if this summer is any indication... for me it means that relationships - even close friendships - will always be in flux. I may live in the same city as a close friend for a while, but then ministry calls me or the other in a different direction. Or, perhaps, I might think that I'd like to chat with a someone, but time zone differences are too great for phone conversations or the demands of ministry/community schedule do not allow for lengthy conversations. ... I am blessed to have friends spread all over the country... which, really is a cool reality. But how does one maintain those relationships? Patience, I think, is pretty important.... Enjoying the few times you can be physically present... and the occasional phone call/e-mail/facebook update...
And so, relationships are built with the people around at the time. This does not diminish in any way the relationships with people far away. But, one cannot become so dependent on any friendships (near or far) that it leaves the person closed to other possibilities.
There's more that I could say, but I think I've rambled enough. :) I started this blog with a picture and a quote - both from the time in Louisville. I am grateful for the time with good friends... for the conversations on community, mission, and partnership... and I look towards our future with a great deal of hope.