day 5: mission possible

I’m home now…I have to admit I’m tired from the week and I have a lot to process, but I truly had a fantastic time.  I was sad to leave on many levels and yet, excited to be home (mostly to see kitty).  I hesitate writing a day 5 report because I really need to let some stuff slosh around a bit, but I can give some highlights of day 5 and after the sloshing is complete, I may do a cumulative review; we’ll see.

If you missed the other episodes…click here and follow the linkage…

day 5: mission possible (I so wish I could add audio to play when you bring my page up…)

If you’ve followed these days, I’ll bet you know what we talked about on the last day of the conference…ta da!  Of course, the Gospel of John!  Again, I have a confession to make…all this time I’ve been a Mark and sometimes Matt girl.  Luke is too wordy for me and John…well I just didn’t get into the whole ascetic Jesus as much as I like the down-to-earth (no pun intended), historical perspective.  And to sing the praises of Sr. Barbara Reid, OP a little more…my perspecitves on, well, pretty much everything Gospel related, study of Scripture, etc…have been flipped over.  The name of the conference was: Women and the Word: Preaching with the Mind, Eyes, and Heart of a Woman”…I don’t think I’ll ever be able to read the Scriptures the same again–all for the better!  Seriously…she is amazing. 

We spent a lot of time on the Samaritan Woman.  You know the story, if not here are some cliff notes:  Women, well, Samaritan.  Jesus, tired, Jew.  Jews and Samaritans no talky talky.  Jesus thirsty, Samaritan woman bucket. They converse back and forth: 

I’m a Samaritan Woman!, J: Drink water of new life!, SW: What in the heck are you talking about?, J: I can’t believe you don’t know who I am…, SW: hmmm, maybe I am starting to get it, J: Uh Oh, my guys are coming; back go tell people, SW: Ok!  [runs to town] I’ll be right back with loads of people!

I’m quite confident that I’m not the only person in the world who thought this passage was about Jesus the “love one another” Jew who throws the law-book to the wind and talks to WOMEN and the OTHERS.  Jesus the model for social justice and humanity…I still believe that.  I never wondered or questioned the role of the Samaritan Woman though.  Isn’t it all about Jesus?  Well…she definately had something to say to us/me!

As in the other “episodes” of this “Katy visits the Dominicans” series, I’m not going to spend much time with the “academic” learning (although I could do that very easily), but attempt to connect the themes to my journey and discernment in these experiences. Sr. Barbara suggested we look at the Samaritan woman as a model of mission for us. Two key points I’ll reframe:  a) the dialog between Jesus and her was a “gradual self-revelation” that was mutual.  A quid pro quo, if you will; however, not in Latin and not with a sociopathic Anthony Hopkins.   b) As a person in mission–she experiences, goes back to the familiar, talks about it with her friends, and brings them back. 

Re-enter discernment, stage right…

Mission…this is important to me.  For me, it’s the “hutzpah” of a congregation (not to be confused with charism, which is a part of mission).  Why do a group of women, come together, choose to commit their lives together, and remain through the good, bad, and ugly for a life time, AND THEN…how does it continue on into the future?  That’s mission.  Each congregation has a mission to which the life, the energy, the membership, the fuel, the ministry…is born, nourished, grown, and moved forward.  If I can’t relate to a group’s mission or see myself entering into the mission with all my heart, then I can’t authentically commit my life to that group.  It’s an integrity/call/authenticity thing.  It’s a very important part of discernment for me…no matter what stage you’re in.  To what/to whom are you willing to commit your energy and passion to?  That’s the question I’m asking now.

Regarding the reinterpreted “model for mission”–this is classic Katy-now (I wish I could claim this process when I was a youngin’ looking at religious life, but alas…this wisdom is all new, uncharted territory) discernment.  It looks a little like this:

Katy looks at websites.  Katy tries to find mission statement on websites and is aware if it is prominent or not.  If Katy likes and can resonate, Katy moves on to experiences.  Katy returns home and will talk about it with people.  If Katy still experiences a nudge, a connection, Katy will return.

Sounds an awful lot like the woman in Samaria.  I know I write in jest often, and I do not  want to belittle the importance of her role as a model for mission–she risked, she entered into a mutual process transforming a relationship from perceived impossibility to friendship, and she returned after proclaiming the good news and brought more people with her. Her mission was to invite people to walk this journey of faith. 

Finally…the mutual conversation.  Dating (women, men, religious communities) is a lot like this conversation between Jesus and Samaritan woman.  It was a gradual process…they didn’t discuss “hot topics” right away.  Jesus wasn’t like, “Hey I’m the Messiah and you’re supposed to be a model for mission, I’m thirsty, give me something to drink and then go bring people back!”  They each gave a little at a time until the reached a comfort level.  The important thing for me was breaking open the mutuality of the conversation.

Dating religious communities can reflect this mutuality…you’re both trying to figure out if each other is a good fit.  Enter into the process with integrity and authenticity…it should work out the way it needs to for both parties.  Subtract that integrity and authenticity…people get hurt and quite frankly, why would you want to commit to something if one of you had a false sense of the other?

I’m not sure this reflection makes a concrete connection, but like I said, I’m still sloshing over the whole experience.  I’ll leave you with a few questions…feel free to comment/begin a dialog!

What kinds of “mission” taps your passion?  What do you look for when making a major commitment?  How do you engage in a risky relationship that still feels compelling enough to pursue?

Ah-ha…there’s my piece that’s floating around…How/Why would I engage in a risky relationship that feels compelling enough to pursue…that’s my discernment question right now.  Now I have to get to work too!

real.truth.experience.joy

Advertisements

day 1; part 2

Day 1; Part 2

(If you missed Part 1)

Enough discernment context, let’s get to the juicy part where I decide to adventure on this 7 day mutually blind date…yep! My first ever blind date, me and 80 nuns whom I’ve never met and vice versa…am I crazy? We’ll see…

My coming here for this experience is a ginormous risk for me; a lot of mixed up feelings. Will I fit in? Will it be fun (will it be the anti-fun?) What if we don’t like each other…or…what if we do? Normal pondering of trepidation before meeting someone for the first time I think. I also was excited! NUNS! SPIRITUALITY! COMMON PRAYER! NIGHT TIME CARDS! I’ve been painfully out of my element, where I feel most at home, and thrive. I truly couldn’t wait to be back in the women religious culture. And…I was a little sad. Moving toward another community means I’m also journeying away from my former community…cognitively, I can say, “oh, that’s healthy, that shows progress, that’s positive movement in the grieving process….”. On the inside, what’s real…doesn’t speak the language of my head.

As much as I only wanted to take the excitement with me, the others have a place in this experience too (growth and all that stuff…) So, I piled trepidation, excitement,and a tiny coin purse of sad into my suitcase…got on that boat and sailed across the lake to experience and notice.

A few observations I had when I planted my feet on Michigan soil and put one in front of the other to begin this experience were…peace, acceptance, and welcome.

So what happens when an ex-Franciscan (who still practically bleeds Franciscanism), who is re-entering the wild world of beginning discernment, and decides to go on her first blind date? Three very interesting things(Bonaventure would be reading into that too…clearly I’m not! LOL!):

1. The sisters gave me a journal. On the back, there was a sticker of the painting of Dominic and Francis embracing! OY!

2. On their motherhouse grounds, there is a meditation walking path called Instruments of Hope…the journey of ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI.

20120612-134335.jpg

Oh and…the first stop says: Francis on the road looking for a new life. OMG

20120612-134400.jpg

 

3. The first slide of the speaker’s PowerPoint presentation FOR THE ORDER OF PREACHERS, was “always speak the Gospel…use words if necessary” and in fades a picture of…that’s right…not Dominic, but Francis.

Ummmm…ok. Interesting start. Clearly the sprit is speaking in her subtle ways. I have more to unpack with today and all that’s swirling, but I think I need to take a few steps back and talk about discernment and what this all means for me in my journey….stay tuned…very soon, I promise!

Oh….I guess there was one more thing, but I didn’t want to lose the Bonaventure moment of a Trinitarian moment…I’ll let the image speak for itself….

Oh yeah, sure does have me labeled as an OP….hmmmm what is the spirit trying to say?

20120612-134144.jpg

<a

We’ll have to see what Day 2 brings..

real.truth.experience.joy

the dating game…discernment 101

20120611-220550.jpg

I’ve decided to start dating again! After a painful break-up and some good ol’ grieving, it’s time for re-entry into the normal world again. Well, as “normal” as religious life gets…maybe I should back up a little and fill in the missing parts. Yes, you can pick your jaws up off the floor!

First, a little context…I’m sitting on the grass over looking a pond at Marywood convent. (You’re what?) I’m here at a weeklong (like 7 days! sun-sat!) spirituality conference with the Grand Rapids Dominicans (OPs). The conference is called: Women and the Word: Preaching with the Mind, Eyes, and Heart of a Woman.

Before I post about today’s juicy details…I think we need to take a gander at Discernment 101. In my other blogs: Nunspeak and Religious Life Rocks: The Adventures of one Fun Nun/Inner Excavation is some more information about discernment as well, I invite you to check those out too.

I’m writing this on my iPad which is not blog formatting friendly…

Discernment 101
Discernment–fancy schmancy nun-speak for thoughtfully, prayerfully, communally, entering into process to help make a decision or choice. Great…now that’s all cleared up! So what does that mean? I think the key words are: process, prayerful, and thoughtful (and if you’re married/partnered/parenting/or religious there’s the communal aspect too).
Discernment is not an impulse or a clear, concrete, correct answer. Discernment doesn’t start or finish…it’s ongoing, it’s a process. Discernment takes into consideration the whole–where am I being called? What are the needs of the community?(interpret that as you need to make it fit) what do I have to give? What is healthy for me? It’s (unfortunately ) not a flow chart (trust me, I tried this…nope, not gonna happen), nor is it a direct path. The serpentine road in this process is “inviting” you to walk gently…sometimes whether you want the invitation to this suare or not. The big “D” does however have stages in this process…now all of you flow chart lovers who just took a sigh of relief…guess again!
My image of the discernment process is more like playing the game Twister. Yes, you know, “right hand on green” “left foot on yellow”, then the times the caller keeps spinning, “right foot on red…right foot on red…right foot on red….”. Yeah…you know what I’m talking about! Sometimes people are in your way, sometimes you can look over at those intertwined people while you have one foot on red, sometimes you don’t have a spinner! Get your comfy clothes on and a pair of socks with no holes, because we can’t have this party without a little Twister! (I’m really jazzed about this image!)
Does all of this sound unsettling? Raise your hands if you think this is resembles a form of interior torture…If you said yes…My friends, consider yourself Discerners.

I’m going to try and blog my experiences this week as much as I can. I’m approaching this writing as I process what it means for me to be basically right in the very beginning of discernment AGAIN. I’ll be sharing my real, my truth, my experience, and my JOY as it relates to my discernment and journey.

Stay tuned….today’s reflections will be coming shortly….
real.truth.experience.joy

molting…for the birds?

I live in a great lower flat with a lot of architectural charm (HWFs, leaded glass windows, built-in china cabinet, etc), I have the best land”people” who live upstairs (whom I adore), I’m in a familiar neighborhood where many of the people I love are…sounds great doesn’t it?  It is…it truly, is great, but…I’m moving.

Here’s the problem…I need to reinvent my life; start all over, essentially.  I did a lot of this discerning, searching, and finding once before…started when I was 18 and I found my niche/calling and followed it when I was 24.  Fast forward 6 years and I found myself having to start over (not by my choice either).

Now, I’m 32 and don’t have a freaking clue…all I know is that to reinvent, I’m feeling the need to divest myself of all things clinging to, reminding, taunting, and shaming me of what I devoted my heart and self.  This is excruciatingly painful (Hey, my blog is not named “Land of rainbows and elves” for a reason…) and sometimes down right maddening.  Everything around me in my physical space is attached to my former life…including my silverware!  I mean, c’mon… who eats a bowl of pasta and tears up because their fork reminds them of their broken heart?

So…I’m molting.  I started with finding an apartment, in a neighborhood where the median age is 37, there are fun things to do, beautiful Lake Michigan is 2 blocks away, and my nuns (whom I love dearly, truly) won’t be beeping the horn and waving when I’m out running off rage from my situation.  Ha!  New space/location…check.

Then I did the first grown-up house like thing–I bought a new living room.  It’s my style, my colors, my design…plus they all match and didn’t come from 3 other convents before.  Begin to get rid of nun-household items…check.

I also refinished two of my dressers (knowing I couldn’t afford new everything…how do you turn nun dressers into Katyesque Chic?  Spend hours on Pinterest and rehab them yourself!)  Begin to have own style…check.
.

Sounds so glamorous and exciting doesn’t it?  I wish.  Today, I started packing by going through my boxes and bins to get rid of stuff…I have way too much crap.  Goodwill here I come!  Part of this cleaning out stuff is actually quite cathartic and meditative.  I was all good until a few things happened:

1.  I came across all of my ceremony photos and memorabilia.  I wanted to throw it all in the trash; wait, I did throw it all in the trash, and then one of my little voices said that might regret that in the long run.  It went in a bin that I hope I don’t open for a very long time.

2. I began getting rid of all of my nunny books and Franciscan memorabilia.  G’bye Francis and Clare!  G’bye San Damiano!  G’bye Joyce Rupp and Joan Chittister!

3.  I realized that no matter what I divest myself from, how I change my space or aesthetics…what I “molt”, I grow back the same feathers.  You can’t get rid of you or pawn it off on a charitable thrift organization.  I dissolved right then and there amid the boxes of books/paraphernalia ready to be moved on.  Boo!

Simply…I spent ~6 years discerning where I’m being called and then another 6 “integrating” and “transforming” to live out that call to end up unjustly discarded…unfortunately my heart and belief and faith don’t follow suit.  This life, this call, is in me…in a real way.  It brings me back to “Ignite or be gone” post…it was my “true and perfect joy”…I fell in love…I committed my life…ARGH!

Changing my physical enviornment…exterior molting, if you will, is an important part of my healing process…indeed.   Internal molting…it’s going to take a lot more than a box of Francis’, Clare’s, a Joyce Rupp prayer-book, your community’s history book, and the omnibus of Franciscan documents to settle this.  A new exoskeleton may look great, but they sure do come at a price.  What do they say…pain is beauty?  Hmmmm…

real.truth.experience.joy