Sunday, February 26, 2012

In the Wilderness

Religious Life is a strange mix of realities. There is nothing that I have experienced that compares to it. Today I have spent much time reflecting on community and am lifted-up by the connection I feel to CSA's mission and the women who share in this experience. People use the analogy of a marriage to Religious Life and although it falls short in some ways the idea of commitment and perseverance seem to be hallmark for both. The romanticism has worn off over the past 12 years, yet the vitality of my life in line with our core values burns strong. And the challenge of Religious Life today is that it looks very different than it did during much of the 20th Century, and the constant of change is going to have its way with us for years to come. I joined this community during our time in the wilderness and although the predictability of what will be is not anything like I expected, it is definitely much more stimulating than I would have guessed. We, like Jesus in today's reading are in the wilderness. This is a time to gather our strength and put our lives into God's care as we pray for the strength to fulfill Jesus' mission. I look forward to Lent this year in a new way as I look around and see that in this wild place I am not alone. I am with each of you, and my community (Sisters and Associates), friends and family as we enter these Gospel days anew. The prayer I offer on this first Sunday of Lent brings me into the presence of God through the senses of Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam through the beautiful lyrics of Just Breathe.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Nearing the Season of Lent

We are in the time of Mardi Gras...I know very little about this big party and what I do know should not be placed in this blog. I just know that the thought of Fat Tuesday always makes smile, as we come to terms with ourselves prior to entering a time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Well, it is much more than those three things but you know what I am talking about. In a few days we will have another opportunity to enter into the season of Lent as we meet Ash Wednesday. Today I have been taking some time to consider what this means for me this year. The question I am asking is, "How can I allow my life to be penetrated by this liturgical season?" I do not yet have an answer to the question and that's okay. I guess things will roll out the way they need to. Part of the problem is there are just too many options for a Lenten practice. Finding balance is the only way to work this through. My tendency  is to work with things that have a practical component. I used to think that people who practiced Lent were insane giving up things for forty days (of course this was my pre-baptism days). Now I look at it differently as I reflect on areas that are in need of changes that can continue beyond the forty days. I like this better because it does not have the New Years Resolution quality (always a set-up for my failure). Somehow if I connect my adjustments to faith and others in the world it holds me up to a standard beyond myself. And, this lets me find greater success in the long run. My guess is this is true for all of us. So, however my life is penetrated in the coming weeks I pray for the strength to deal with the temptations to turn back and that I am aware that we walk this journey together for support and love.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

As I read the comments from last week there were thoughts about what it means to live a life of accompaniment as we deal with the constant of change. In one sense this is what we are called to do. All of us are called to walk with people who are both suffering and rejoicing, including ourselves. The invitation is ever-present as I write tonight. Sometimes when I first meet someone it is interesting to speculate about their life. Thoughts about what makes people tick are always interesting to me (likely to the point that I sometimes spend so much time considering these things that I miss the opportunity to know someone, and surely to let them  really know me).

Everybody has a story and that story, or those stories, shape us into the wonders that we become in living. Last night I when it was announced that Whitney Houston died the web was crazed with commentaries and speculations about her story. People were all over the the place in tributes on YouTube and facebook, and many people continued (including myself) to blame her relationship with Bobby Brown as the beginning of Whitney's end. It's as if I knew her personally and have insight into what it was like to live her life. I am sad for the loss of this woman who sang her life into my heart and brought beauty, even in her tragic moments. And yet I rejoice in the thought that she is now home. I am also aware tonight of the woman who is living in Naco, Sonora with frail health as she struggles for life. And, the Capuchin Franciscan that I know who has been given notice that his life is nearing it's end. I spoke with him two weeks ago and his words filled my heart with joy. Unbelievable, and yet he is facing his days through the lens of the living, not one who is dying. I grieve and rejoice as the ebb and flow continue to create the rhythm of loss and gain.

Right now we are looking at the rhythm of life and I may be focusing on the moments of loss (that is where my heart is tonight), yet today I met this spirited child at Liturgy who was a live wire ready to plug in. She entered the community of worship with exuberance as she announced who she was to pretty much everyone. I watched as she looked to my friend, who was next to her, for guidance in finding hymns and such. She actually spent some time just staring at her (like a cat fixed on that invisible spot on the wall). She was all about giving people hugs during the kiss of peace and just wanted to soak it all in. My heart is also filled with the joy that this child received and spread as we shared in these sacred moments. Rather than allow myself to get all analytical on his little girl I attempted to experience her just as she was (not a successful move but I tried). As I close this out I wonder if I realize that near or far, recognized or not, known or unknown, we are here for one another? Even when not turned on we live in the rhythm of life that is unstoppable and draws all sentient beings together. Part of the good news is we are invited to take responsibility for this experience any way we can. Okay, that is enough blah from here. Have a great week!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Turn and Face the Change

I have not had the space to think about writing this week and that is a bummer. What is on my mind is how we deal with change. Change happens frequently in life and sometimes the frustration of small changes can create havoc. Today I made the official switch to the new "Timeline" on facebook. Not a change I am thrilled with and it is difficult to find my way around the front page. People are threatening to quit facebook over this change and that fascinates me. I wonder what created the need to change the format? After a few weeks it will become familiar and it seems that I will use it without worrying about the former facebook reality. For now I will accept my learning and the frustration that goes with it. Part of the frustration with change is when it is imposed or I am suspicious of its origin or implementation.

The discomfort of change is ever-present. We are more tuned into it when it affects us, or someone/something that we care about (just going for the obvious on that one). As I am reflecting on these discomforts I wonder if I am just as frustrated over the long-term environmental concerns of our world as I am with that which is immediate. It is so much easier to disconnect from the realities of distance and longevity, you know the big picture items. Part of my work these years is to become more aware and sensitive to the needs of others and our planet. If I were to get as upset about life and environment as I do about things like facebook my guess is that I would be living off the grid in the near future (although I am not sure that is really possible). I think of this and then wonder if it could happen, most days I dread the length of time it takes to make dinner (I removed the microwave from my apartment nearly two years ago and things take longer now). Maybe this week will provide space to spend some time reflecting on the role of change in my life.