Sunday, July 29, 2012


I am at the Mother House studying for one of the courses I'll be teaching in the fall (Theology and Leadership). One of my friends called to have me watch Religion and Ethics on PBS at 1:30 p.m. and there was an interview with a member of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and some other people regarding how we (sisters) live our lives today. Of course this topic is one I hold close and afterward it was nice to get back into my reading about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He is a Christian martyr and theologian who was hanged in Flossenburg concentration camp April 09, 1945. His life's work is about what it means to live faith in action and as I reflected on the interviews my mind kept wandering to how we do this today in Religious Life (a common theme as you might already know if you have read previous posts). In another effort to take a break I began leafing through Vision Magazine (a vocation guide for Religious Life). This was fascinating as I looked at the plethora of options people have for finding a community today. I read this magazine when I first began looking at CSA and loved the articles and looking at the variety of men and women's communities that exist.

Today, my experience of Vision was different. The life I have been called to is difficult at times and, also the most beautiful expression I have experienced of sharing God's love. I desire to share the opportunity of Religious Life with people who are called to join us. It fits me in a way that nothing else did before. I know there was a time when being a Woman Religious was regarded as something of greater importance in building up the reign of God (as was the Priesthood and the life Religious Brothers) than people called to other lifeforms. The good news...or part of it that today we know differently. My life is special, and the reason for that is I seek to respond to God's love with authenticity and an openness to share it with others through my religious vocation (ideally this is how it is for all of us, Woman Religious or not).

I attended Mass this morning at our Mother House and looked around the room at my Sisters and rejoiced in belonging to this group of holy women. They have worked so hard to bring about God's goodness and inspire the same in me. At the end of the day (or the beginning in this case) we have the opportunity to serve together with our diverse manifestations of God's love while sharing in the Mission of our congregation. The ministry is great and I absolutely love what I do. Yet, the way I feel when among my community, Sisters and Associates, is something that is indescribable. I think what is spurning this chatter was one woman interviewed for Religion and Ethics and how she addressed what women religious need to be doing in the Church. My immediate response was frustration. I find myself reciting my vows today and believe that it is in this formula I find my love for prayer, community, ministry and the Church. God called me here and my response is to answer with my life. At times I am provoked while it appears there are increasing divisions in our Church regarding ideologies, spiritualities and theologies, what it means to be faithful, and who has the right to belong. I joined this Church in gratitude for the large umbrella that shelters divergent thinking and practice in the pursuit of loving God. Today, as a Christian I seek to find that same passion in others as we face the suffering and joy of each day knowing at times we will fall while striving toward greater goodness. I am glad the National Religious Vocation Conference is putting out Vision Magazine and although I read it from the eyes of one who belongs to Religious Life I appreciate the articles and ads that show how differently and vibrantly each community expresses itself. Hmmmm....I used the word today often in this post....just had to get it in one more time....who knows if I will have a chance to say today, tomorrow ;o).

Sunday, July 22, 2012


The days of the blog-cation are over and so much has happened over the past two weeks (I missed you these past weeks). We had our community days and that was filled with great discussions and opportunity to plan for the future. Before our official start sisters under 62 y/o were gathered to begin visioning together. I was cautious about entering into this experience and found that most of us had similar experiences. There were 25 of us present and it was powerful to realize how little we really know one another as a group. I am still touched by the gathering and look forward to how we will build and dream the future together wtih the rest of CSA. The other days were good as well and I had the opportunity to work with a group to put on a day that incorporated the concept of leadership and with Associates and Sisters. It seemed it turned out well, tomorrow we will get the official feedback from a Survey Monkey to see if those attending thought it was a success.

Currently I am writing this post from Fond du Lac, WI (which reminds me I need to give people the official notice of my move) and the week has been good. Did I mention that I would be living with one of my community members and her 23 y/o niece (who has two dogs)? The awkwardness of moving-in is still a little present. You know people never offer you a blue print of their lives when you share community (like it would help if they did). So, over the years I have learned is the best thing to do is live into the experience and pay attention to schedules, patterns and ask questions. Part of my angst before coming was that I would not no how to do this. The reality is that I have an advantage in this situation because I know them at varying levels. I do feel much more confident about this than I did last Sunday evening while finishing packing. So, in this new situation it is likely time to reflect on possibilities and change while entering a new routine. There is something adventurous about it really. 

I am very aware of the massacre that happened in Colorado last week and offer prayers to those who were impacted by this act of violence. There are times when I think we really live in twilight and are confused about whether we are entering day or night. This is how I experience the massacre as I watch the media interviewing people who were there and getting the scoop. I wonder why we want to know all these details and whether they would be better off having an opportunity to put their lives together without being scrutinized? There is a poem by Adrienne Rich that is coming up right now as I write and although it does not apply directly to the massacre or the media response it offers what I find to be an astute perspective on humanity, yours and mine. And, I must admit there is something dark about the poem that fits in with my current reflection on living in the twilight:

What Kind of Times Are These

There's a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.

I've walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don't be fooled
this isn't a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.

I won't tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light—
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won't tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it's necessary
to talk about trees.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


I am on a virtual blogging vacation (blog-cation--coined by a friend and less fun than a staycation) for two weeks as I move and stuff. See you upon return!

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Do you recall your last big move? Or, your first? That is the hub-bub in my head tonight, and basically I want to make it all go silent.

This weekend one of my friends treated our usual group to a condo in Wisconsin Dells and passes to the Water and Theme Park across the parking lot. It was a different experience than we are used to as a group and it seemed like last night we finally found our stride. I was sad to leave today, yet had to get home and start packing for the move while I try to finish my summer class. Did get much done after reading an article and a short nap. Tonight I feel much better about the move than this morning. The goal is to have it all done by next Monday so that when I leave that evening for CSA Days (our annual gathering of Sisters and Associates) I will be breathing easy when the move actually happens on July 16. Moving is never a fun experience for me. Packing and unpacking are activities I could do with out. I am fretting more than usual about this one and really trying to take my time going through things. In reality what has been accumulated living alone has been very little. Much is being handed back over to Goodwill Industries and Salvation Army. I recall my first ever apartment, everything was furnished by St. Vincent de Paul and Goodwill. And, wow, it was so much fun shopping for it all. Living was very sparse back then and simplicity was much easier. Of course, my guess is that most of my boxes is books. The last time I moved most of the books were donated to a University library (I referred to it as the Vatican Library). This time they all need to come along for the ride and most of them are still theological, while I accumulate all this material on Leadership Studies and Critical Theory/Pedagogy.

While packing up my prayer area I realized that I am again moving into a house of shared space. My sacred objects will join me in a new space, while finding a prayer corner in a bedroom. The two years here have been good. It is like for the first time in many years I was able to create and claim space for myself. This offered a much needed refuge. Selfishly this is difficult to release. There is a piece of me that is content with not having to share. Yet, I know that this is not the life I am committed to and it is not what is stirring in my heart.  Still, I am not clear on what it is that is stirring and sometimes I am impatient with God about it, questioning constantly whether moving is the right thing to do? Of course, in many ways this accompanies my broader response as a committed Woman Religious. What is it that my vows offer to the betterment of the world? The realities of this life are changing pretty fast. What is the challenge being offered to Religious in the 21st Century? Do I have the courage to stand-up and say, "Yes!" with the same verve that was there the first time I proclaimed my vows? Okay, this is a slice that came out of a prayer space, and of course each of the objects is a reflection of my spiritual life and journey thus far. So tonight I am sitting with all the guess is there will be more as the transition continues. Let's face it moving is difficult for all of us and although it feels like chaos the good news is that impermanence is real and hopefully will continue to foster more questions.