When we take a loving look at our lives, what might benefit us more: filling the hole in our life, or being in the hole with God?
In Horizons, younger sisters reflect on their lives, ministries, spirituality and the future of religious life.
I have long known that love is a package deal, complete with overflowing tenderness as well as overwhelming vulnerability to pain. What caught me up short was the sheer capacity of a single heart to hold equal portions of joy and pain simultaneously.
As I moved into my day, the whole process of rebuilding the foundation for our compost bin struck me as an echo of what I've seen and participated in over the past 18 months at my ministry. I came on the scene as many vulnerable people were feeling toppled.
This week marks my 30th birthday. Like many new members of religious communities, I have mostly lived with sisters many years my senior. I find myself with an awareness of aging, death and human vulnerability that is uncommon among my age peers. In a culture that often ignores these realities, my experiences in intergenerational living yield a complicated mix of gift and grief.
With my daily devotional propped on the airplane tray, I read the collect for the day's liturgy. In a few hours, I would land in Phoenix and assemble with 32 other sisters in their 20s and 30s for our annual Giving Voice retreat.
While my body is working hard to heal, any type of positive message will be helpful. So I turn my grateful thoughts to the places on my body where I hurt the most. My jaw, my hand, my nose. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
As the news cycle brings more swirling storms, we want to hunker down, close the doors, and stay safe and warm, away from all the crazy. This is a natural response, and sometimes the right course of action for a time, but it cannot be our default position.
For the last few years, I've spent the days leading up to the new year in the cozy confines of a retreat center in western Massachusetts. While friends send text messages about New Year's Eve, I share silence with a group taking a prayerful pause at year's end. In silent, guided reflection there is the invitation to reflect on all that has been, to pray for all that will be, and to bless the time we have.
I'll never forget the moment I first laid eyes on my niece, Lucy. I'd been following the updates all day, and now I was standing before a few-hours-old baby.
In the Middle Ages, the idea of spiritual motherhood was quite popular among both women and men. St. Bernard of Clairvaux, a Cistercian, understood his role as abbot to be "Mother." St. Francis of Assisi described himself as a mother to his brothers, and Meister Eckhart wrote, "We are all meant to be mothers of God, for God always needs to be born."
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