Friday, January 23, 2009

A Passage for Today

Wisdom 11:22 - 12:2

Because the whole world before you
is like a speck that tips the scales,
and like a drop of morning dew
that falls to the ground.
But you are merciful to all,
for you can do all things,
and you overlook people's sins,
so that they may repent.

For you love all things that exist,
and detest none of the things
you have made,
for you would not have made anything
if you had hated it.

How would anything have endured if you had not willed it?

Or how would anything not called forth by you have been preserved?

You spare all things, for they are yours, O Lord,
you who love the living.
For your immortal spirit is in all things.

Therefore you correct
little by little
those who trespass,
and you remind and warn them
of the things through which they sin,
so that they may be freed from wickedness
and put their trust in you, O Lord.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Reflections on Being Called

I'm (again) in the middle of many books! The two dominant ones are Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston and The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris.

The Cloister Walk is fascinating, with the author's Protestant faithful perspective on the liturgy of the hours and monastic living. She seems more catholic than she lets on! She discusses the saints and humanity in beautiful language, and what she says speaks to me in unexpected ways. Here's one example, from a discussion of Jeremiah:

"All of us, I suspect, have times when we're made to suffer simply for being who and what we are, and we become adept at inventing means of escape. ... Jeremiah reminded me that the pain that comes from one's identity, that grows out of the response to a call, can't be escaped or pushed aside. It must be gone through. He led me into that heart of pain, forcing me to recognize that to answer a call as a prophet, or a poet for that matter, is to reject the authority of credentials, of human valuation of any kind, accepting only the authority of the call itself." (p.38)

A few pages later:
"Walter Brueggeman, in a book on the prophets entitled Hopeful Imagination, suggests that 'a sense of call in our time is profoundly countercultural,' and notes that 'the ideology of our time is that we can live "an uncalled life," one not referred to any purpose beyond one's self.' I suspect that this idol of the autonomous, uncalled life has a shadow side that demands that we resist the notion that another might be different, might indeed experience a call. Our idol of the autonomous individual is a sham; the truth is we expect everyone to be the same, and dismiss as elitist those who are working through a call to any genuine vocation. It may be that our culture so fears the necessary other that it has grown unable to identify and name real differences without becoming defensive about them."

These words speak to my own internal struggles with a vocation and how it is perceived. All of us know that choosing religious life is countercultural--who else gives up sex, money, and power? But, of course, there's more to it than that. In my heart, there is the knowledge that if I don't listen to this calling, even if it leads me back to where I started, I will not be happy. I will not be at peace with myself and with God. Despite any hardships that listening to the call might bring.


I just came home from a lovely week with my dearest friend and her three-month-old baby. I miss her so much--we have lived in different cities for about a year and a half, and I still wish that I could see her more often than I do.

One of the interesting things about our relationship is how it has stayed strong, even though I am choosing a celibate life, and she got married and started a family. It helps that she's into religious things, since she (and her husband, too) understands my calling and sees it as a blessing. I'm very grateful for that, and it allows us to keep close even when our lives are very different. And of course, I value her way of life as well. Who wouldn't love a beautiful family, a precious babe?

Our friendship has changed, as she becomes a mother and her world is dominated by the needs of the little one. It's something that I enjoy watching, but at the same time I miss our old friendship, where I could claim more attention. Doesn't that sound selfish! I think she might miss it too, miss having more freedom to do what she wants. I know she wouldn't change it for the world, that she loves that little boy more than anything, but I know also that this transition is hard on both of us.

It's always funny to me that the most beautiful things in life are also some of the most difficult things to adjust to. Moving into something new is exciting, but it is also a time to mourn what you are leaving behind.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Beginnings and Endings Friday Five

The following comes from RevGalBlogPals. Conveniently, the questions are things I was reflecting on yesterday:

This Celtic Mandala represents life, noting how days and years turn from one to another. As we have stepped from 2008 into 2009 some of us look back with joy and others with sadness; probably most of us with a mixture of the two.

As we look back we may come to understand how God has worked in and through us in joy and sadness. how we have grown against what may seem impossible odds. As we look forward we may do so with expectation, and we may do so with fear and trembling. As we look back and forward in New Years liminality I offer you this simple yet I hope profound Friday Five in two parts:

First list five things that you remember/ treasure from 2008

Then list five things that you are looking forward to in 2009

As you read one anothers blogs today I challenge you to leave a word of encouragement and pause to pray for each member of Revgals as we step into a New Year. I leave you this New Year Blessing from the Iona Community:

We stand to face the future:
God behind us in the past
Christ before us; the way ahead;
Christ beside us in this moment;
Christ beneath us in our weakness;
Christ above to shield us-
beneath the shadow of his wings we are safe;
Christ between us to bind us in the unity of his love;
Christ in us equipping us with his all sufficient grace.
Thus armed and guided, and protected we face the new year.
Now we arise and go forth on the journey before us,
knowing that, where Christ leads, life is a journey home.
Therefore we travel in faith, in hope, and in love,
in the name of the Father/ Mother, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
May the blessing of God
be upon us
all this year
and into eternity. Amen.

Five things I remember and treasure from 2008:
  1. Beginning and going through the application process for the RSCJ. It's been a long road that's not over yet, but I have learned so much about myself. I think also that in the process I am becoming a stronger person and more confident in who I am.
  2. Spending time with my best friend as she prepared to have her first baby. I will meet the baby next week!
  3. Becoming more at ease in a new place. I moved here in 2007, and 2008 has been a year of greater comfort, more friends, and finding a place in this community. It is good even though I will be leaving this community over the summer.
  4. Spending time with the sisters at the retirement facility in California. I spoke with one sister for awhile and she said some things about religious life that I will never forget. She said that you have to "date God" and never stop. That this is a beautiful thing, and one that brings great joy. She also has the gift of tears, and she simply radiated joy and love. It was a very special conversation, as were others with those sisters.
  5. I am thankful for the many weeks I have been able to spend with the sisters. Each time I am with them, no matter where it is (New Orleans, St. Louis, San Francisco, Chicago....) it feels more and more like the place I want to be for the rest of my life. I am grateful that I have had the many opportunities to stay with them and to become a part of their lives as they become a part of mine.

Things I look forward to in 2009:

I'm ignoring the whole "five" thing just to explain what I look forward to. I'm hoping this year will be one of profound life changes, as I become more and more who I am and who God wants me to be. It's exciting and a bit scary at the same time, but for today at least, I am up for the adventure!

The year of new adventures begins (I hope) with acceptance into the Society of the Sacred Heart. I should hear the final word in February, and so then I can begin to think more about the next year, as we discern together where I will go and what I will be doing. The possibilities are pretty open, though I hope to continue teaching at the college level for the next year as well.

I'm looking forward to living in a house, in community with the sisters, even though I know it will be a challenge.

I'm looking forward to a new city, a new job, a new form of life. Again, these things are challenging, but they are also (I hope) full of blessings.

So, this year will be one of blessings, one of friendship, one of growing relationships. And one of hope. May each of you have a year full of God's love as well.