Sunday, December 18, 2005

Where do you fit in God's journey?

Susan Rose has a lovely little post about coining the phrase "Groovy Sisters." Reading her post took my mind back to a time when I asked if other people out there were jealous that they didn't have any groovy sisters of their own (or, in Susan Rose's phrasing, Grovvy Sisters -- not that I would make fun of you, though!).

If that's the case, then have no fear, for your perfect Christmas dream is about to come true. See, we tend to put a lot of emphasis in our society on Christmas with the coming of Jesus and all that, but at that point he was just a yelping little tyke who just laid there in his crib. Folks in Latin America, they emphasize the "Little Christmas," with the arrival of the magi.

Now, I know you folks out there -- you're pretty smart. In fact, from some of your comments, I wouldn't hesitate to say that you're actually quite wise. What better way to celebrate your geniusness than by paralleling that journey of so-long-ago?

That's right .... just as the wise men travelled to a stable out in the tiny town of Bethelem to witness what was to come in their religious lifetime, so you too can travel, as a wise woman, to a monastery out in the tiny town of Ferdinand to witness what may come in your own religious lifetime.

We've got a Benedictine Life Weekend coming up on January 6-8. Even if you're not interested in attending (although I can't imagine why you wouldn't be interested), you should at least follow the link, because there you will discover a photo with not only myself (top middle person, basically all you see is glare off my glasses) but also The One, The Only, Natty, of WhereToNowGod fame (top left) [better picture is here]. Now, Natty has this crazy idea in her head that she wants to be a Dominican, but she came and checked out the Benedictines, just to see. Something about being open to the journey.

See, 'cause here's the thing. Much as I like doing the peer pressure thing, really, in all honesty, I believe there's a right place for everyone, and that every place can be the right place. It's all about who you are. So some of these groups that are possessive and even, to an extent, competitive [sounds crazy, but I promise you, there are some out there like that!] about the women who are discerning with them is just ridiculous, in my mind. I know, I know, I keep threatening to post my vocation story and I never follow through, but the thing of it is .... it is complete total pure unadulterated accident that I am here among the cows of southern Indiana. Total chance. Wasn't looking at communities. Knew exactly where I'd enter and what I'd be doing. And yet, here I am. For other folks, like Natty, it was in visiting my community that helped clarify for her what was really drawing her to her community. If a vocation director is doing her job right, in my humble opinion, there ought to be openness and even encouragement for the discerners to look at other places too.

See, 'cause it's not about the community. It's about God. It's about where you can love and serve God and become the best you that you can. Whether that's in the cloister praying all the time, or out on the streets of Calcutta, or in a high school classroom, or wherever ... whether that's following the Rule of Benedict, or Dominic, or Francis, or Ignatius, or whoever. It's about "Where is your call." Not who wants you the most. It may seem exactly as you envisioned it; it may seem like the most bizarro-world possibility for you ever. It's about being open to the journey. It may be for life; it may be for a few months. It's about being open to the journey. If you're open to the journey, then it will all be right, even if it seems "wrong." If it's for a few months, that doesn't mean it's a mistake; it means that there was a special lesson for you to learn that was best learned at that time in that setting.

Being open to the journey.

Unfortunately, that's not always the reality we see. If it doesn't work out, it was a horrible mistake. If you're even considering this, you must just be distraught over your lack of a boyfriend. If you don't enter this specific community, they will wither away into nothingness. If you return the postcard to that community, it's the equivalent of signing a contract for life.

That's not how it works. It's a journey, a quest, a lifelong process.

Heck, the whole theme of our vocation program is "Your Invitation to Exploration."

Yeah, sure, I give Susan and Natty a hard time about not being cool enough to be a Benedictine, but it's all in fun. Quite frankly, if they think they truly have a sense of where they're being called, I wouldn't want them here. That's not to say that I don't think they're awesome and I'd love to have them around .... but I want them to be where they can become their best selves. Plus, with the face of religious life today, and how it is continuing to shift and evolve ... somehow I don't think the differences of OSB, CSJP, OP, RSCJ, FMI, SSND, SSJ, (or any of the gazillion other options in the world), will really matter in the long run. There's so much intercommunity collaboration that goes on ... if nothing else, it will be good for me to have these connections in the broader scheme of things.

Because, as I said, it's not about the community. It's about God.

And, really, because of that ... it's not even about "community". It's about God. Can you serve God best on your own, without any external ties or commitments? Then go for it. Can God use you better in an exclusively committed relationship? Then that's great. That's just as awesome as being in a broader-based communal relationship.

And the only way you'll find that out is by looking, and searching, and asking the questions, and trying on different options, and searching, and asking the questions .... and repeat the process over and over. As a very wise woman once told me: It's a lifelong journey.

Where do you fit?

So ... feel free to come check out our Benedictine Life Weekend, or don't. I would recommend reading my shameless plug from before, because that's where I get into all the specifics. Also, I'm sure Natty would be willing to answer any questions you might have. If nothing else, she can at least verify that she survived the experience.

Also, feel free to comment and/or e-mail me. I'm sure Susan Rose and Natty would make the same offer. As I said before, this is one of those journeys that is one that requires "been there done that" status to really be understood. So if you ever need a been-there-done-that ear, feel free.

And, of course, be open to the journey.

9 Comments:

Blogger AveMaria1 said...

hmnn..*scratching my chin*

12/18/2005 11:41 PM  
Blogger Steph said...

Come on, all the cool kids are doing it .... we won't be your friends if you don't do it ....

:-)

12/19/2005 12:23 AM  
Blogger Susan Rose, CSJP said...

grovvy!!! :)

You're right on per usual Steph.

It's about the journey.
Checking it out isn't the same as making a committment.

But if anyone out there keeps having those persistent thoughts, they do owe it to themselves to check it out. And discernment weekends like this are a great way to do that. But you need to be careful ... that's how I found my groovy sisters!

And yes, the future will be all about intercommunity cooperation I think. Which is why it's cool we're building a bloggy sisterhood of our own :)

My blog/e-mail is also open to anyone who wants my take on the whole been there done that thing.

12/19/2005 1:34 AM  
Blogger Natty said...

*BLUSH*BLUSH*BLUSH!!!!*

I was checking my SiteMeter stats and was wondering why so many of my referring links came from your blog recently... *blush!!!!*

Awesome post, though. Kind of strange to really realize people go back and comb through my archives... I hardly ever do... kind of fun/weird to read stuff I wrote "way back." ;-) And I'm not exactly a font of "holy/pious" wisdom these days either... But anyway, if it's useful to someone else, then hurray.

And Steph is right, go check it out... I bet the "midnight" mass will be awesomely amazing, and the BLF is a fun time... especially gettin' to meet and hang out with the funnest Benedictine ever... Oh, and Sr. Steph was pretty cool too! ;-) *ROFLMBO!!!!!*

To Lauren, who sounds like she's thinking about it... if you can get there, I highly recommend you go!!! It's soooo beautiful down there. And you can celebrate my birthday (Jan. 6) with Steph, in absentia! Raise a glass high on the hill to my big Three-Oh!

12/19/2005 9:29 AM  
Blogger Natty said...

Aargh, BLF = BLW = Benedictine Life Weekend

Grovve on...

12/19/2005 9:41 AM  
Blogger Veronica said...

I would love to come, but that weekend is, in the East, Christmas itself. I'll be celebrating the birth of Christ for a second go ground with my Byzantine Catholic Mom. You folks will have my prayers for sure, though!

Nice post, anyway. I have encountered some of the extremely competitive and possessive communities. It's a little creepy; I have actually gotten notes from Sisters challenging how serious I am about being a *Catholic* because I didn't feel called to their community. It's important to remember, I think, that this isn't the same as a job hunt.

12/19/2005 11:04 AM  
Blogger AveMaria1 said...

Steph...

How can I get in touch with you?
Wannabesaint@hotmail.com
I would like to talk to you outside of bloggerville.

Lauren

12/19/2005 11:22 AM  
Blogger Steph said...

As I would often tell Susan .... "Be careful what you ask for!"

Natty, just so you know ... I was mostly just looking for those specific posts, so between BlogSearch and checking around that timeframe, that was it. You think I'd spend time that needed to be used grading searching through other folks' blog archives? Ummmmm, wait, don't answer that! :-) Seriously, though, it was more just to give a perspective of our weekends from a more non-biased individual. That, plus you're pretty darn cool and I liked getting to meet you over the BLW!

Veronica ~ That's a new twist. I hadn't quite heard about the "you must not be a real Catholic" argument [except for when I use it in fun!]. I do know vocation directors who get mad at our vocation director for advertising our weekends in the diocesan paper, or for "stealing" their people (students at their schools who don't join their order, etc.) I also know some folks who received the entire application packet in response to their initial interest postcard. I'm definitely with you on the creepiness factor of some of that.

And along those lines .... there are also people who start off in one community and switch to another. We've had some people transfer from one Benedictine house to our house; one of my good friends up in Indy was just shy of final vows with the Franciscans before she shifted herself over to the Benedictines. (We think she should get an award for "Most Time Spent In Initial Formation" since she had to start all over again from scratch!).

Lauren ... info has been sent. For anyone else, my email is in the sidebar ... SrStephOSB{at}gmail{dot}com.

And now to hurry up and get everything taken care of (packing, cleaning, etc.) before I head to the Hill in a few hours for CHRISTMAS BREAK!!!!!

12/19/2005 12:56 PM  
Blogger What Now? said...

Steph, Not exactly apropos, but...what I'd be really interested in is exploring being a lay oblate, but I can't find any central location for information about such a thing. Maybe because there is no central location? Anyway, if you ever have any info on this, I'd love it if you could write a blog post about it. Thanks!

12/22/2005 10:52 PM  

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