Sunday, July 28, 2013

Some Call Me Sis

It has been nearly two years of writing "Some Call Me Sis." This experience has been enjoyable while sharing with you thoughts and experiences from my perspective as a vowed woman religious n the 21st Century. I will be leaving for a sabbatical in the next couple of weeks and during that time will not be blogging. I am not sure what will happen after, and just want to say, "Thank you." As time has rolled out over these years I have become more aware of those who read this blog, and with that awareness feel a connection with you as reader. This amuses me somewhat during this age of technology while we strive to stay connected with one another in new ways. Sometimes the technology can be overwhelming and appears to separate us more than anything. Of course this is a concern that I have for folks I see in public places sitting together and playing on their computers, tablets and phones. And, yes sometimes I find myself so distracted by technology that I forget the presence of those around me. This weekend while with some family and friends in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (affectionately called the U.P.). I noted that when in constant contact I use technology as an escape. My guess is that during the sabbatical technology will take somewhat of a backseat and I both look forward to that part of the experience, and dread it. As my Mom pointed out last month I have become a bit of a technology junkie (she used different language of course). Blessings as you continue to journey!

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial 
Today I am praying for unity in our world, nation, communities and families. Last week marked the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the death of Trayvon Martin. I did not watch the trial and am unsure how the jurors came to their decision. My heart is heavy about the entire event, as I am sure is true of many of us. President Obama's words to the country yesterday were hopeful as he made connections to what it is like to be a black male in our country. My hope is that at some point we begin to recognize our fears and begin dialogue that challenges the ethnic divides in our country. As I reflect on my fears and concerns about people who I see as different the challenge to transform is a constant. While writing it seems like we already know that each of us holds prejudices and maybe this is not necessary to write about. And still the Gospel of Jesus does not come fully to life if we are afraid of difference, and it is further deadened when we are ignorant of our own fears. It's that simple to say, or write, and yet much harder to live.

National Cathedral, Washington D.C.
The tour to Washington D.C. was fabulous last week. We rode bikes, saw a few movies and toured the city a bit. Thursday we went to the National Cathedral for a tour and stayed for Evensong. The choir from Christ's College of Cambridge, UK led us in song. The prayer was rich as we gathered behind the podium where Martin Luther King, Jr. preached his last sermon four days before his assassination. The cathedral is breathtaking, no other words to describe it. What impressed me more than the gothic architecture is the way in which the National Cathedral functions to bring people from various denominations together. Their are nine chapels and my favorite was the Chapel of the Resurrection. The mosaics were beautiful and so contemporary. The stained glass throughout the Cathedral is astounding (I tried to get a picture but it turned out pretty lame).

Later that night we headed to the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial (see picture above). Again, breathtaking.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Partial X-Country Road Trip

The online summer school class I taught ended Friday and it was great fun. I would have never guessed this would be the case. What a wonderful challenge to learn about the cyber-classroom and how to build rapport and connect through the fiber optic world of technology. There is so much to do and it was time intensive to build and called upon creativity and humility in the process. Fortunately I have a friend that mentored me through the process.  I am surprised that you can get to know students in an online forum. It is still foreign, and there is much room for improvement. And, if given the opportunity I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Currently, I am traveling from Collegeville, MN to Washington D.C. with my friend where we will meet two other friends for some communal fun. While sitting in a coffee shop waiting for her to finish wedding activities "Homeward Bound" came on the radio and it created a swirl of reflection. For a variety of reasons I spend time reflecting on the concept of home, where it is for me and what that means. Where is home? This is an existential question. I invite you to watch the video and take some time for reflection (that sounds sort of directive doesn't it...maybe teacher mode is kicking in). Respond to the question if you feel comfortable letting us know your thoughts on home.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Guest Blogger: Sister Dolores Lytle

For a couple of years now we have all relished Sister Vicki sharing the stories of her ministry and her life as a sister of Saint Agnes. I joined Vicki two weeks ago for the great gathering of our community called chapter. Unlike the annual CSA days, this gathering brings all the sisters together to tell of their efforts to understand and appreciate the privilege of working as ecclesial women the last four years. Reflection and conversation helped us articulate our dreams for renewing the life of the community. From listening and deep reflection together came a clear outline of what is most important the next four years. Our common journey expresses our commitment to journey together consciously evolving for the same of the mission.  A newly elected leadership team will coordinate all of us and we review our own lifestyles to sync them with the 2013 Chapter Statement. Once again this statement says our lives are about the mission of Jesus, and all our individual and group relationships are to measured in Christ.

At times working in Illinois with the dozen sisters in our area, I can feel like a drop in dry bucket working for Christ and our church. But coming together with more than a hundred sisters and associates to listen with care and great attention to Christ and each other, I know my drop is part of great and strong river a century long. A waterway present in Latin America and North America touching the lives of those whose faith life and human dignity are threatened. We celebrate the jubilees of vowed and committed members, a couple of thousand years of dedication to Christ’s mission. Check our website, the IT people should have it working again real soon. Read for yourself the statement woven of our dreams and get to know the sisters who will help us live it out.

Sister Dolores Lytle, CSA

Sunday, June 16, 2013


Did you see Superman: Man of Steel? I went Friday with one of the sisters and thought the message was inspiring. It was a great time because we went to a drive-in theater, always an exciting time (and it has been at least twenty years since having this experience). The trailer is included mainly because I marvel how the plot fits our own reality today. It broke box office records, even up against Toy Story 3 (yes, I saw that as well). The power of this message is so fitting, and I recall being a child and seeing the Christopher Reeves as Superman with my dad, so this was reminiscent of those feelings of astonishment back in the day. Oftentimes we see in these films people who are following a path like our own as Christians, sometimes we even recognize the Christ figure in the characters. I left hopeful about the world. And, also knowing that each of us have a part to play in how it all rolls out. So, I suggest seeing it if you are in need of hope and want to experience some quality action.

This week we begin our community Chapter meetings. We will be discussing how we want to move forward as a community and electing new leadership for the congregation. We will complete the days and then head into Jubilee celebrations for Sisters and Associates who have been committed 15, 25, 40, 50 years and so on, this will be June 30.  I will be on hiatus and ask that you pray for us.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

New Life

The first scripture reading for today (1Kings 17:17-24) has Elijah entering into a widow's house only to find out her son has died. He takes the body to the upper room where he is able to call upon God and is heard. The son is brought back to life through Elijah's call and action. In the Gospel (LK 7:11-17) Jesus brings a dead man back to life. In both accounts Elijah and Jesus are recognized as people of God after performing these miracles. I reflect today on what it means to have life restored and know that over the years this has happened for me. One seduction that constantly beckons is cynicism and what I have learned is that the antidote for such a condition is getting in touch with innocence.

It sounds silly on one level, yet for me there are practices that help make a return to innocence possible. When I talk of innocence it is about being in touch with the freshness of each moment as an unexpected welcome.  For instance, teaching high school demanded that I be present to students in a way that was real. Teaching theology was fun for me as it helped God come to life in my prayer and interactions in ways I would have never imagined. Partly this was because I realized if I was not authentic there was no way to reveal the universal message of God's love. The students I came to know helped me learn that there is not room for cynicism when committing to a life of love. Teaching young people offers a fresh perspective if one listens. This is where love moved me into a cause that requires I work with others in order for them to know God's love. This can be done in so many different venues outside of the classroom as well and as life unfolds my guess is more opportunities will arise. There are ways that I still struggle with the cynical voices that pop-up in my head, and at times it feels like I lean hard into nihilism (this has become more apparent over the past year or so). It is a dance that will likely continue. The difference today is that I cannot deny the new life I have found through God's love.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Commitment in Religious Life

Womankind is the song I relate to tonights topic. Thank you Annie Lennox for being such an
inspiration and working so hard to change our world!

Lately I have spent much time reflecting on what it means to be a vowed member in a religious community of women. Getting here has been a most interesting journey and it all began with a stirring that could not be denied. Listening to God requires discipline. Saying yes to God, well that requires a whole different set of discipline. Of course in some ways the two seem interchangeable. I am a sister out of a desire to love more fully and so far this is a constant invitation to being more authentic. I am still me - with all the foibles that accompany that statement (no list of these darling characteristics will be given...if you know me you know some of them, if not you have met them in yourself or others).

I remember often being asked if I was concerned about being lonely before entering CSA. I also remember some people teasing me for choosing consecrated celibacy over being in a committed relationship with one other person (translate this for yourself). Or people wondering what was appealing about celibacy, poverty and obedience in a community of women. It never seemed that people were trying to be crass. Rather they seemed sincere with these concerns. Religious life is an alternative lifestyle and it is a response that is not easily defined. I find strength in relationships with community, family, friends and the people I work with. Ultimately my heart is filled with a deep desire for God and this is where I find solace. Today I am aware of the privilege of my life and the gratitude I have for the unfolding of God's call. I also rejoice with those who are challenged to listen in similar ways as we explore what it is that we are moving toward in our various communities.