“First Flight”

experience.  arts.  respect.  motivation.  leadership.  self.  risks.  confidence.  diversity.  creativity.  fun.  focus.  passion…

These are just a few of the many words which appear on the base of my uncle, Richard Taylor’s, sculpture: “First Flight”.  His sculpture was commissioned to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the First Stage Children’s Theatre in Milwaukee, WI.  The words were taken from testimonials written by the First Stage alums regarding their experiences of First Stage; some of the inspiration for Richard in the sculpture creation. 

First off…I’m incredibly proud of my uncle–he is a gifted artist really living out (I would say, “call”) his passion and talent to provide others with more beauty, serenity, peacefulness, and reflection all through his aesthetic media.  His art pieces are always accompanied by thoughtful and deep artist statements which allow (at least for me) people to take in the piece of art while inviting he/she to probe themselves to find a deeper meaning. 

Richard describes this piece saying:

…The sculpture soars with confidence, is diversified in its many shapes yet finds strength in their unity.  It proudly assumes a posture of leadership while it upholds values.  It is respectful of its surroundings while it passes on these life experiences to all who have found them…I have sought to compose a sculpture embodying the spirit of achievement and pride inherent in these tributes…”

 I so appreciate my uncle for these invitations. He is a model of humility, thoughtfulness, and passion to me. Way to go, uncle Dickie! 

On my way home from the dedication, a plethora of bloggable thinking invaded my drive home…the title of the piece, the descriptor, the words of inspiration…on and on.  Not only does this piece have special meaning to me because of my uncle and the reflective element of its meaning…it really spoke to me of my journey too.

First flights…what does it take for someone (somethings…i.e. birds?) to prepare for his/her first flight?  What supports does one need?  What unplanned events (yuck!) occur?  Where is the learning?  What are the outcomes?  (For those of you who are now rolling your eyes because I said “learning” and “outcomes” it’s ok…those are just as integrated within me as red blood cells and neurotransmitters)

You know what I came up with? (With a little help of course!)

experience. arts. respect. motivation. leadership. self. risks. confidence. diversity. creativity. fun. focus. passion…

It seems like I’m having first flights more often that I’d like lately.  However, I look at that testimonial list and I am inspired, motivated, joyful…  I don’t feel the sometimes present: stress, fear, dare I say…hurt and anguish which can accompany a flight or transition one does not wish to take.  Nope…no ma’am!  I get excited!  I am ready to jump/fly/swim/jig/…!  Bring it on world!

So how can I cultivate the positivity in reminding myself that there is the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” while still acknowledging and owning the yucky stuff that is very much real, but not meant to stifle? 

I don’t have the answer to that…yet! (Ha!) However, I think it lies somewhere between “soaring with confidence”, allowing yourself to take “shape”, while “finding strength in unity” …throw in a little passion, fun, focus…and allow myself to be a part of the beauty that can be created with flight.  

Thanks, Uncle Dickie, for this thoughtful piece of art and the opportunity to continue to be inspired by and learn from you.

real.truth.experience.joy

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