investments, darkness, and gifts?

I’m pretty convinced that the songwriters of Mumford and Sons hired a private investigator to follow me around since 2002 and collect fodder for their songs.  They’ve made millions on my life!  I am also determined to write a blog entry on each song…

Today’s message is brought to you by poet Mary Oliver,  the letter “G”, the emotion “grief”, the song: Awake My Soul

The Mumford P.I.’s must have written this song while I was “self-emptying” myself in formation to become a nun:

How fickle my heart and how woozy my eyes…And now my heart stumbles on things I don’t know…My weakness I feel I must finally show…Lend me your eyes I can change what you see…But your soul you must keep totally free…

All true…but, you see, I freely, enthusiastically, with my whole heart I chose this.  I entered into the process, I trusted the process; I invested my life.  Freely.  With an open heart.

In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die…Where you invest your love, you invest your life…

Invest your love. Invest your life.  This is painstakingly my truth.

My favorite poet, Mary Oliver, has a poem:

Someone I once loved gave me a box full of darkness.  It took me years to realize that this too was gift.

Grief smacked me in my face today.  She’s sneaky…she comes in many forms.  You think she’s gone or at least leashed or sedated, but she’s still there; waiting patiently to envelop you with her suffocating presence   Today, she came in the form of love, kindness, and hugs…unexpected and overwhelming.  She also reared herself in a more reasonable, “logical” way: rejection and forgetfulness.  I hate her–her unpredictability; not knowing her place nor appropriateness or timing!

My love and life were invested.  My investments have also handed me a life-sized box of darkness.  My God…I pray I can find the gifts sooner than later.

real.truth.experience.joy

 

the dating game…discernment 101

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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

Stand up, Sisters! “Fill Jerusalem with your teachings…”

Infuriorated.  Befuddled.  Disbelief.  Utter disgust.  Some of the thoughts (feelings?) that crossed my mind last night when I read several articles on the Vatican’s decision to appoint a Bishop to “reform” the workings of the LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious)…before I begin my thoughts on this…let me help set some context:

You can read the NCR version of the article or the NY Times version by clicking these links:  National Catholic Reporter       NY Times

NunSpeak 101:  LCWR–Conference of most of the Head Honcho Nuns in the US.  Offer support, education, retreats, and social justice activism for most of the congregations in the country.  Organization was originally set up by the Vatican.  They do great work especially in helping congregations living out their charism (Nun word for “spirit/flavor” of each individual group) and responding to the needs of the time.

I was a member of a religious community (whose Provincials [Nun for: Boss Ladies] belonged to LCWR) for 6 years; vowed for 3.  Religious life is a huge part of me and despite the fact that my “legal/canonical” status has changed, I still have very much spirit and commitment in me as a woman religious.

I don’t even know what to say.  My first reaction was all of this rage-y energy flowing and I posted my fury on FB immediately.  I couldn’t sleep last night…I was so distrubed.  This is MY church…the faith tradition in which I believe, was raised, and continue to put energy into…what are these guys, and I mean GUYS, thinking?  Why the attack on women religious?  Do they forget who has established and maintained most schools and hospitals in this country?  Do they forget teachings of the church like, hmmm…I don’t know…CATHOLIC SOCIAL TEACHING?  Do we ignore the messages of JESUS?  I feel like I’m in an episode of the twilight zone!  Obviously, I’m a bit riled up.

This morning…I decided to look at today’s readings and was immediately struck with the 1st Reading: Acts 5:27-33–AMAZING!  The Spirit speaks to me again.  I guess my rage turned to anticipatory hope.  Knowing I struggle with the hierarchy of the church prioritizing an attack on women religious’ conference speakers when we have real, human, social issues to deal with in the world, this reading reminding me that this is the work of Jesus…no matter how unfortunate it seems.

So using my ragey energy…I pray for our chuch, especially the hierarchy, today.  That we be reminded of the God-ness in our faith and not the “man-ness” of power.  That we see our church as a living organism…changing, adapting, mutating as necessary with the signs and needs of the time.

I pray for my girls–my woman religious family…that you have the courage and strength to continue to “fill Jerusalem with your teachings” and “obey God not man” in just and ways in which benefit humankind…sometimes at a great price.

real.truth.experience.joy

Washing Feet…not mine…not now…

Wash my feet? Mine? Now?

Sorry, they are rough and tired.

Profound gesture, thanks.

(Haiku.  Holy Thursday, 4/5/12.  KML)

It’s Holy Thursday…my “tied-for-first” favorite liturgical feast (the other?  Pentecost).  I find the story, the reflection, and the profundity of washing feet deeply touch me.  My tied-for-first  feasts are so closely related in meaning.  They both are about commissioning, service, mission…values embedded deep within me.  Values that led me to consider and pursue my call to religious life.

A short story insert to help with context:

Once upon a time there was a college freshman named, Katy.  Katy’s family went to Florida every year for Easter and unfortunately, because Katy’s college schedule didn’t allow for that, she was stuck at home.  Katy had to vacate the dorms for Triduum–Easter Monday so naturally she went to the convent to hang with the nuns.  Now, Katy, although growing up mostly Catholic, never went to a Triduum service in her life.  Not only was she churched that weekend…when she woke up on Easter Sunday (to get ready for more church), the nuns had the 8 o’clock MASS on the RADIO.  Katy hadn’t been to this much church, in consecutive days in her life…let alone listen to it on the radio. (although there was that one time she tried to convince her mom watching it on TV was legit because it was the Pope…)

Come to think of it…I think it was Holy Thursday that weekend of Nunning it where the universe united and I began considering religious life as an option.  After (you guessed it…) Mass, Srs. Toni, Guisselle, Kathy, and I sat in Toni’s room and somehow started looking at Toni’s ceremony pictures.  Then I slowly started to ask questions…and I still have the journal entry somewhere…but something changed within me.  That night my heart heard something different…

Fast forward…14 (ugh…) years…

I’m disinterested, not moved, not inspired…I don’t want church, hell…I don’t want faith, prayer, spirituality…any of it at the moment.  I love God and I know God exisists…that’s about it.  It’s painful to think about going to church.  It’s painful to think about a feast which represents my call…my vocation.

Selfish…probably.  Feeling guilty…yep.  Taking care of me, despite my charred insides…you bet.  (My spiritual director says that I’m allowed and I don’t need to be interested in God for God to be interested in me…hmmmm.)

So here I sit…on my favorite feast day, blogging.  I wrote the Haiku above this morning.  I have had many profound experiences with the feet washing ritual.  I’ve had the Jesus–“Hey…I gotta do this to be an example…”, the “Peter”–Wash mine? I should be washing yours…”, the “Collective”–we wash one another’s as communion, etc.  I’ve never felt the–“Disgust and the need to hide my feet (or self)” mode, like I do today.

My feet; they are rough and tired.  My feet have been on a hard journey–over hot coals, thistles, sand, dirt, rocks…you get the point…  They have been beaten up, they have been soothed along the way, yes; however, need to heal a bit more before exposing them again.

This self-care stuff, I’ve been working on for a couple of years now, in a deep way.  It’s hard!  It doesn’t feel right…especially when you feel called to pour out your love for others.  Tonight…I need to care for my battered and blistered feet…and humbly bow before my spirit and let myself be ok with this (and know God is too…). Not easy. Not comfortable…but what journey is easy and comfortable?

real.truth.experience.joy