Saturday, December 29, 2007

5 CHRISTMASY THINGS....

The 1st Christmasy thing was the Christmas program at Holy Trinity on Monday, December 17th. I'll smatter some of the pictures around my writing about it for you to see.


I remember how excited I was when I was a kid preparing for the Christmas programs. My Grandparents have never missed a concert I have been in.

As a teacher, it was always so great to see/hear the kids when they started rehearsing their pieces. (Actually it was usually quite hysterical.) Then slowly I'd start to see it come together; they'd be so excited! Then I'd get nervous for them on concert night! I'd want everything to be great for them and their parents. Of course everything would be great; the kids are cute and sang well. I give elementary music and band teachers so much credit; what a tough job!


As a principal...sheesh...I have never been so nervous. I didn't sleep all weekend because I was anxious about the concert. Sunday night, I was trying to think of all the details I needed to remember to communicate; my head was racing.

My music teacher is new this year (one of the teachers I hired); I wanted everything to be wonderful for her. I wanted my faculty to feel good about the rehearsal, afternoon concert, and evening concert and have all they needed. I wanted the students to be on their best behavior and perform well. I didn't want to forget anyone in my thank you/appreciation list during my closing words. I was a WRECK for this concert.


Monday morning came and we all gathered in church for the rehearsal time. As rehearsals generally go...it was rough sailing. The children were SO GOOD and well behaved! I was so impressed and proud of them. The group that made a particular impact on me were the K5ers; they are an active group to begin with. They sat without making a peep for over an hour. They started to get antsy the last 40 minutes...duh...they're 5 (and I was antsy way before them!); even when they got antsy...they were so good. I just love that class! I LOVE all of the children at Holy Trinity, but as a teacher, I always had an affinity for the more challenging group of kiddos.
The afternoon concert was great. I could relax a little and then the evening performance came. My mom and grandparents (told ya they never missed!) along with Sr. Phyllis and Deb came. That was soooo nice to have some people in the audience who I knew were there to support me. The kids were fantastic! Everything went without any issues. PHEW! I was so proud of my music teacher; I think she did a great job coordinating the students, and picking fun and unique song choices (including a multi-media song).

We have an excellent band; they played very well. The kiddos sang with enthusiasm and did a great job. The 7th and 8th grade drama students put on a "DE-LIGHT"ful play (It was called A Christmas De-Light), with a great message. They were so good in their roles; again I was so proud. The first graders acted out the nativity story and were so cute in their costumes. Personally...the K4s stole the show with their bell playing...it was hilariously adorable. Holly, my K4 teacher really is phenomenal and did such a great job preparing them.




All went well...and I survived my first Christmas program as Sr. Principal! To celebrate...Grama and Grampa took me out for steak...mmmmm....yummy! Maybe next year I'll be calmer. It is something though transitioning from coordinating and being concerned about 20 some children to being concerned about 158 kiddos, 20 faculty, and parents and and and...all is well!

CHRISTMASY #2--1502 Decorates!

Now this is one of my most favoritest things to do...decorate the casa. We got a tree from St. Greg's to support the boy scouts; unfortunately the needles were dropping at warp speed. So we went back to Greg's and got Tree #2--perfect. We put on the Christmas tunes and decorated...it was a wonderful time with the Sisters. Here's some 1502 Sister shots...we had grasshoppers for dessert that night!




CHRISTMASY #3, 4, and 5 (Sorry no photos...forgot my camera for 3 and 4 and 5 ran out of batteries...dohp!)

#3. I always make my Christmas gifts...always. Well...this year I just haven't had much time (hmmmm I wonder why....) So on the 23rd I decided to BAKE my gifts. I went to the White House to use the kitchen because all of my White House girls were out of town visiting their families for Christmas. I baked and I baked and I baked. I made 400 Holiday Biscotti and then packaged them up nice and purty for people. I felt better that I was able to make my gifts for people. It was only 1:30a.m. when I finally finished! I had a great time though...cranked the music and enjoyed having a house and kitchen to myself! :-)

#4. Christmas Eve/Day in 100 words or less:

Started at Srs. Toni/Charlita's for an SSSF Christmas Eve meal and celebrating. It was really nice. Then went to Grama and Grampa's house for supper and Christmasing. It was one of the most delightful, fun times we've ever had on a Christmas Eve. I don't know what made it so great, but we really had a nice time with one another. We laughed and laughed...my stomach muscles still hurt from laughing! We didn't leave there until 2:15a.m. Christmas day early morning with Mom opening gifts. Christmas morning/afternoon with Dad...he made a wonderful brunch. We watched Elf and hung out. Finally Christmas Day evening at my Aunt's house for another wonderful supper and merriment. I played my cousins' wii and new drum game for Xbox...it was fun.

My Grama made the most phenomenal gifts for all of the grandkids...she made scrapbooks of our lives from the time we were born until the present day. They were beautiful! She has saved EVERYTHING...concert programs, cards we gave, drawings we made for her...it was incredible. We spent hours looking at them and reminiscing. It is a treasure and a great memory.

#5. 1502 Christmas--tonight (Or yesterday...as it is past midnight...yikes!)

We had a wonderful dinner; everyone cooked something. Then we shared a nice Christmas prayer. I made Grasshoppers for dessert (yes, again...but they are soooo good.). Then we had the Kris Kringle revealing. It was fun! Jan received a card shuffler from her Kris so we had to try it out! It was a lovely evening with my Sisters!

Okie dokie....that brings me up to retreat day and snow fun...which I may have to wait until next time...because I'm pooped!

Friday, December 28, 2007

12 dozen cookies...5 Christmasy things...a Retreat Day, Some Snow Fun...

And a partridge in a pear tree....(Ok that one is a lie...there was no partridge. Here we go with catching up with my life for the past 6 weeks!)

This entry begins with one of my family traditions COOKIE BAKING. I hate cookie baking. Well, that isn't totally true either. I don't like group kitchen projects. For me the kitchen is a sacred space and I really enjoy cooking/baking alone. Maybe that's strange...but I've never claimed to be boring!

This year...I put my foot down! Mom calls, "Hey Kate...when do you want to bake cookies this year?" UGH..."Hey, Mom...I'm so busy and I just don't have much time and I really don't like baking cookies...can you just do it without me?" Mom: "Well, sure Kate...if you really don't want to." Kate: "Yes, mom...I really don't wanna." (Fast forward a few days later). Mom calls again, "Hey Kate...Grandma wants to bake cookies with us and she really would love it if you joined us." (She pulled the Grandma card...I do ANYTHING for my Grandma). Kate: "OK...we can bake cookies, but you have to come over to my house to bake." Mom: "Great! We're looking forward to it!" So much for putting my foot down; but it's for Grandma! :-)

So Mom, Grama, and Ellie (my littlest sister) came over and we had cookie baking extravaganza 2007. Molly had to work otherwise she would have come for the tons of cookie fun. I gave all of the ladies an apron and we were off! To the left we have Jill (my mama) sporting Beth's apron and me to the right with my special "One Fun Nun" apron. We both got KitchenAid mixers for gifts recently...and love them; new favorite kitchen toys!





Here's the baby pretending to work...just kidding Smelly; you did a very good job sugaring your peanut butter blossoms. Here's a view of the crew and some of the goodies. And finally a loverly picture of my mama and my grama. Awwwww....




Ok...ok...so it wasn't that bad! We had a wonderful time together, laughed a lot, and made wonderfully yummy cookies! Until next year...when the fun will happen again....

So there's #1 in my list of December fun....I'm going to post in separate entries so they don't get too long. Peace out...yo!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Where's the Fun Nun?


Where's the Fun Nun? Oh...my! Where could she be? November 13th was her last posting...aye yoy yoy! Hellllllllloooooooooooooooooooo.....are you out there? Helllooooo laadddddyyyyyyy.
I'm here! I'm here! To make up for such lost time...I'll will give you the 6 week update in 3 separate posts! Thanks for sticking with me! Enjoy the next few posts!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Comedy Sportz

What does a newly professed School Sister of St. Francis/elementary school principal do in her "spare time" for FUN?
Naturally she has been studying the art of improvisational comedy...and performing every 8 weeks after successful completion of her course work at Milwaukee's very own Comedy Sportz! I'm sure you all guessed it correctly! Right?! What do you mean you can't believe it?!
For those of you still scratching his/her head...have you ever seen the show Who's Line is it Anyway? That's improvisational comedy! No...it's not the same as stand-up or sketch (SNL). It's fun, challenging, clean...and a great stress relief and creative outlet for this fun nun.
Comedy Sportz is something I've always wanted to do. Last year, one of my best friends, Lisa, was going to start taking the workshops. I said, "By golly gee wilakers...it's about time! I think I'll take it too!" So we did it...I told the Sisters I was engaging in a top secret endeavor and 8 weeks later I would reveal it. We had our classes and then I invited the Sisters, family, and friends to our first "final assessment" (performance)...it was awesome! I just love it! SSSFs were in good form...filling the entire front row!
Fast forward a few months...Lisa and I took 102 and then 103. Last week Monday was our performance from our last class (103) YES, I WILL UP LOAD PICTURES...hang on a titch! It was a great show...lots of laughs and of course we had a lot of fun. I have met some great people and I look forward to continuing with Sportz.

This is Mr. Dave Theune...he was one of our teachers. Woo hoo...go Dave! He is a really good teacher.
















And now what you've all been waiting for...visuals! To the left is me and David Lane playing our warm-up game called Word Express.
Here we have (from L-R) Casey, me, and Jon playing one of my most favorite games: Good, Bad, Worse advice. We get advice-type questions from the audience and we have a distinctive character and answer depending on if we are assigned good, bad, or worse advice.
(See that cute hair with the maroon jacket...that's Jill...she's my mama! Yay Jill!)
The funky woman in the blue sweater...that's Lisa. I love her. Here's our friendship story in 25 words or less:
Circa January 2001...I get off plane in Manchester, England. Blonde walks over to me, "HI! I'm Lisa" "Hi! I'm Katy" (Hey she has my accent...hmmm..) Lisa says, "I'm from a small town in Wisconsin, but I go to school in Milwaukee." Katy replies, "No way...I go to school in Milwaukee...Alverno" "Stritch" Wow! Bada bing...friends forever. Awwwwww. Or something very close to that story.


We do a phenomenal impression of bagpipers by the way...if you ever meet us together, ask us...we do impromptu concerts for a nominal fee.
To the right is Lisa, Patrick, and me...I forget which game we are playing there, but we are sure smiling pretty!
That's right, gentlemen...three people can fit on that horse...ride off into the sunset! What you don't know is that the "horse" was in the teacher's lounge...hilarious scene!













That's all I have for now, folks. For those of you who thought, "What will she think of next?" I hope you have enjoyed this posting! It was a super great show. Some of my faculty even came...which was really nice. I think they had a great time.

On a more serious note:

Please pray for my teachers and students this week Thursday and next week Monday. We have 1st Quarter parent/student/teacher conferences. This is always a busy time of year and makes for lonnnnnnng days for my teachers.

Ciao for now...laaaaaaaaaaadies and gents. Peace out!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Nun Run 2007

Nuns and Running? Don't let your eyes or mind deceive you! What is a nun run you may ask? It has nothing to do with running and very little to do with Nuns to be quite honest. It's a catchy little phrase and cute little photo though...isn't it? Sorry...not happening on this blog!
This past weekend I was on the coordinating team for a NUNRUN in the Milwaukee Archdiocese.
A NunRun is a 24hour (ish) experience for women who would like to learn more about religious life and how it is expressed in different congregations. In the Milwaukee Archdiocese, there is a collaborative effort among all of the religious congregations and their vocation directors (VMMA). Twice a year, we try to have a NunRun featuring 4 or 5 different congregations. The participants get an opportunity to experience diversity in community life and housing, learn a bit about the charism (spirit or flavor) of each particular congregation, and share prayer and meals together.

This NunRun featured 4 fantastic Milwaukee congregations: (I've linked them for you)

Or as I affectionately call them: The Franny's, The Salvies, The Dommies, and The Aggy's.


We started at our SSSF Mama Casa, got the 3 women participants settled. Then we hopped in the way cool SSSF van and proceeded to the SDS Provincial Center, which is adjoined to their high school, Divine Savior Holy Angels. We were greeted by Srs. Carol Jean, Karlyn, and Mary Lee (their Provie). We shared a spectacular supper, had a tour, and learned a bit about the Salvie charism and history.


Hopped back into the official vehicle of the 2007 NunRun and went back to our Mama Casa. We were greeted by Sr. Maureen (our Provie...to the right) and had some snacks and conversation. After a good night's sleep...we had a delightful morning prayer service and a tour of our motherhouse, history wall (I love our photo wall), and chapel. Said adios...to the SSSFs and headed onto Racine.



The Racine Dommies, have a spectacular place. They run a retreat center and it is RIGHT ON THE LAKE...absolutely gorgeous. I love it there. The participants got a tour, we enjoyed lunch with some of the Dommies and some of the other vocation directors...then we gave the participants some time to enjoy the retreat space. They were able to walk and talk with a vocation person, if they wanted, or they could just use the time for themselves.

An aside note: Half of my living group was at Racine this weekend! Deb our new affiliate was there for her intercommunity group and Sr. Beth was there for a weekend gathering too! Throw Sr. Mary Ann and Sr. Stella (a Lake OSF) in the mix too..it was PARTY in Racine on a Saturday afternoon. That was nice...I visited with Deb, Stella, and Mary Ann a bit and then was back to work with the NunRunners.

Bye, bye, bye...to Racine and onto the Aggys to complete our tour. So far the participants had an experience of a modern Provincial house, a gigundo Mother House with a lot of history, a half motherhouse/half retreat center type place, and finally a "regular living space" experience of housing. That's right...we visited a local Agnesian community home. There are 5 sisters living in this house. They were superbly hospitable to us. We did some sharing, enjoyed a delicious supper, and then had a lovely prayer to end our time together. My friend Sr. Vicki is a temporary professed with the Aggys...she lives at that house. It was great to see her and get a little CRAZY.

Overall...I thought the NunRun was a success...we met our objectives and I think the participants got a great, diverse flavor of the possibilities in religious life. I really do enjoy this type of interaction with people, although I was really wiped out by Saturday night. It's nice to share our community's story with people as well as learn about others.

Monday, October 22, 2007

WICKED

It's 1:00a.m. and I can't sleep. I know I have been awful at posting on a weekly basis. I just haven't had much to write about...not like there is nothing going on. I'll try and give a brief update on what has been happening:


Last weekend I went with my other living group...the White House Sisters, to Chicago to see WICKED! It was incredible; seriously one of the best musicals I have ever seen. I want to see it again.

It was a lovely day with my Sisters. We took the train down from Milwaukee and played cards. Enjoyed some lunch...headed off to the theatre. Experienced this AMAZING performance and then ate Chicago stuffed pizza for supper. It was one, wonderful, "one short day" in the Chicago City! (That was a cheesy call back from the musical...I know...I know)

Galinda was phenomenal; however, I was totally inspired by the character of Elphaba. The singing was spectacular, costuming, choreography...it was truly "the whole package". I have a new "dream role" to add to my list of roles in the "If I ever have time to perform in musical theatre again" category. Elphaba of course...although for me I think Galinda would be more challenging character wise. Elphaba would be more fun for me!

Wednesday at school...for part of our professional development time, we explored a greater meaning of collegiality and played together. Yes you read that correctly, we PLAYED. We have been having some difficult times these past few weeks. It was time for a morale booster...not that I can take the credit for it. Two of my teachers planned and facilitated it. To see my faculty letting loose a bit, laughing, joking and enjoying one another was worth it! We need time and space to boost our morale so that we can develop as professionals. And for those of you reading this think that this doesn't connecting with a professional standard of education...I hereby give you:
  • Wisconsin Teacher Standard #10: Teachers are connected with other teachers and the community. The teacher fosters relationships with school colleagues, parents, and agencies in the larger community to support pupil learning and well-being and acts with integrity, fairness and in an ethical manner.

Oh yeah...we're connecting and fostering relationships...because ultimately...that's what's best for the kiddos. And that's why we are all here. I hope this time was good for the faculty and that people are in better spirits this coming week. We do have a short week, so I think the break on Friday will be rejuvinating...for all of us too.

This past week seemed like a whirlwind (ok...which doesn't). This weekend I sang at a friend's wedding. It was really nice. I was happy to be able to do that for her and her husband. Saturday was quite relaxing...I went for two long walks. Today I was in Chicago for my prayer group. That was nice too...I missed seeing my Chicago contingency of Sisters.

Now it's 1:00a.m. and I should try and sleep. I have a busy week coming up...a lot of SSSF events! Yipee!!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Jabba the Yuck

Ok...so my blog is not entitled "Religious life...the land of rainbows and butterflies" for a reason! I am the queen of acknowledging the positive and eliminating the YUCK; but I had one of these profound revelations that I will attempt to share...it's filled with YUCK YUCK and more YUCK...but it's real and reality is part of this life adventure that I promised to share with you!
My image of YUCK is Jabba the Hut with the Mr. Yuck face:

Here we go...fasten your seat belts and pray (it will be a minor miracle if I actually publish this.)

Transition is one of those FABULOUS formation words that has a completely different meaning once you enter religious life. When I entered, people talk about "transition" as a state of being, a personality, an attitude...I'm finally starting to put some meaning behind my own reactions to being in "transition". (a brief aside for those who don't know me personally...I can be, well slightly animated and I have a way of saying TRANSITION that encompasses what this meaning is. When I figure out how to record my voice onto the blog...I'll add an audio :) )


So I'm in transition...on like every possible level imaginable--formation transition, living group transition, ministry transition...and there's probably more, but that seems like a good start. It takes me longer than I'd often like to come to some understandings of my reactions to things. This is partly because I have a tendency to hibernate and partly because I am an information gatherer by nature. I look for the info, the logic, and then the application.

This period of transitions for me is starting to at least be clear as far as what I'm reacting to and why. So I have the info, I'm starting to fit together the logic...and hopefully sometime in this century I'll figure out the application. :-)

The last two years of novitiate...there was an intense focus on the Katy-factor, as it should be. It was filled with the joys of GROWTH and trying to figure out this religious life stuff. Last year was a little bit of ministry, a little bit of school, a little bit about the vows...I'm growing, I'm learning, I'm integrating...woo hoo.

Then it happens and in typical Katy fashion...all at once...I have a new ministry, I'm a vowed girl, and my living group changes. No problem...I can handle this...I don't fear change...in fact change is part of the adventure...I LOVE ADVENTURES.

I don't give myself much leeway for well...anything. I was aware that all of these things were transitioning at once, but I was trying to react to them as individual events; as if this happening at once doesn't affect my being. I tend to be an extremist...so I was just plain down on myself pretty quickly for not "figuring it out" immediately. (I didn't say I was logical; I said I looked for the logic).

To be completely honest...my extremist personality said, "Ok...Kate...you are not perfect enough in your ministry, you are not perfect enough in community, you are not perfect enough...yadda yadda yadda. This is kind of a big yuck-o place to be. Especially after the extreme high of entering a new ministry and vowie wowies.

So I finally succumbed to the fact that I am in transition AGAIN. And it's like the quadruple whammy transition...not just your run-of-the-mill T-time. It wasn't the succumbing to being in transition that was a realization it was the "oh crap, I can identify (FINALLY) more of the whys and the behaviors...and what I can do about them" that is the part that has me in shock.
So I've identified a few of the YUCKS that perhaps can help me move beyond this blobby yuck funk that I am trying to EMBRACE.


**Relationships--oooh one of my core values (and I'm surprised that this is an issue for me?)
I realized that I love my job because I try to be a relationship builder (although that is my biggest challenge right now...but that's another entry for another time) as a school principal. Because I made this HUGE shift into a very consuming ministry...I think part of my struggle is feeling disconnected with relationships which are important to me. I don't see my friends, family, or community as much as I'd like. I don't connect with the people regularly anymore. I also came off of this relational high preparing for vows, especially my pre-vow retreat. I thrust myself into ministry, ministry, ministry...no balance...little integration happening here. Hmmmm.....


**God time and Katy time
Yeah...see relationships and multiply this by 5 million. I need, need, need to take time out for God time and me time. When I don't take time for this, I am usually overwhelmed and almost over the edge. I find too, particularly with this ministry...I need that down time for myself and prayer just to re-energize myself for the next day. I am not so disciplined in this and will usually excuse myself from it because of being tired. What I realize when I do take this time, I have more energy. My spiritual director (brilliant) asked me to be intentional...not judge myself about the how long, how much...is it ENOUGH (see a theme here?)...but just be intentional. So for the past month...I have lit a candle every night before bed (I haven't missed a night!). Some nights I lit it and blew it out and went to sleep, other nights I lit it and sat watching the flame, a few evenings...I even reflected for a while! I just did what I could at that moment...and it has made a world of difference on my YUCK factor.

There are a few other insights...but I'll stick with these for now. So what am I learning...nothing new...it's the same darn lessons; over and over and over and over again. The relationship thing was a big revelation because I think being disconnected (I think that's a feeling? right?) is having a big impact on me and challenging my value and my commitment. Instead of immediately owning this thought of "disconnectedness"...I get paranoid and usually come down on myself pretty hard. But when I realized..."oh Kate...let's call this Yuck monster disconnected" I can now do something about it.

All this babbling really boils down to is two words: BALANCE (grrrrr) and INTEGRATION. This stage of my religious life calls me to this in a very profound way. How do I maintain healthy relationships? How do I balance ministry and community and...and...and...? WOO hoo...I've been working on my goals..viola!

Yep...I've gathered some info...I can apply some logic to what I'm experiencing and thinking (thank GOD)...and the application I'm sure will be in the journey. That is tough...as soon as I figure it out...I want IT to happen. At least at this point I know what's "missing" and can take some action in addressing it.

There you have it, but don't be alarmed, in the grand scheme of things I'm good; ministry is good; community is GOOD...but reality does exist here. I am called to love...that's what I vowed; love when it's easy...love when it's hard. Loving, learning....all part of the journey. Religious life is real...and real includes the YUCK too. :-)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Catholic Herald Article

2 weeks ago, our Catholic newpaper in Milwaukee featured an article for their vocations section.

http://www.chnonline.org/vocations/current/special_supp_front.html

Enjoy!

GO PACK GO

3-0, top of the division, Bret has tied the record for TD passes, we beat the highly favored SD Chargers...and I WAS THERE! WOOO HOOOOOO!

My mom's boyfriend, Rick has tickets to 4 games each year and I'm always teasing him that he should take me instead of my mom because I LOVE football and my mom thinks going to Lambeau is better people watching. So Friday night, I said, "c'mon please...take me!" and jokingly he said, "Well if someone cancels...you're our #1 backup!" Saturday morning Rick called! WOOO HOOO.....


Yes we were lucky recipients of the PROUD 2B LOUD towels too!
The worst part was having to be at the park n ride at 7:15 this morning (ugh)...but it was so worth it. They played a fantastic game. It was truly one of the most exciting games of football I have ever seen and to be RIGHT THERE was awesome. Lambeau is crazy...crazy fans...and when the PACK do something great...everyone is your new best friend. It was totally exhilarating.
Now...I'm kaput..

Have a great week ya'll! GO PACK GO!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Quick Update and a Request!

Hi ya'll....

Two in one week...my my...aren't you all lucky!

Here's the update:
I've had this icky cold the past couple days and today was the first day in a long time (even pre-cold) that I came home with energy! The sun was shining..it was great...I went for a nice walk, which I haven't done since Labor Day weekend! That's pathetic...I love walking what's my problem? Anyway...then landed at Sr. Toni and Sr. Charlita's house to visit. Toni and I played cribbage (she won both, but she trys to steal points...and I won the rule argument. I called Sr. Mary the cribbage guru and indeed she affirmed my right-ness; I digress...). Now I'm home trying to finish my newsletter and feeling a bit uninspired at the moment. Will have to finish tomorrow.

Here's the context for the request:
I'm a big dork...I've watched my vow video a couple times (these past couple weeks). It's neat because something sticks out differently each time. I watch the "highlights" of course...and I've listened to Sr. Mary Ann's homily a few times. Each time I hear it a little differently; she was THAT GOOD, and a different message emerges. It's neat to see all the people who were there. I get that same beaming, excited, sparkly, YES THIS WAS THE BEST DAY EVER experience when I watch it. It's happy and I'm happy and content with my life! It's a nice mediation to pray with. It's great to have this video memory; what a gift.

Which brings me to my request...
I can post video on my blog, but not quite sure how. We are getting a clip edited in a .wmd file from the company that did the videography, but I was also thinking I could get some of this puppy on my blog from the DVD...does anyone know how to do that??? Leave me a comment...awards and e-prizes of e-affirmation will be yours!

Now..I have to get ready for my evening routine...I love my job...I HATE 5a.m.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Group Retreat Weekend

Last weekend, my "live-ers" (the Sisters I live with) and me went away for a group retreat! We stayed at the Log House which is a part of the Cedar Valley Retreat Center in West Bend, WI.
We are a "new group" in many ways: Sr. Jan just joined us in July. Sr. Arlene and Sr. Beth have been with us for a year, but last year was unique with Sr. Arlene's traveling schedule and Sr. Beth's recovery from her accident; it was just Sr. Phyllis and me most of the year! And we are SO excited that we have Deb with us too. Deb is a woman who will be our new affiliate (see Nunspeak...formation stage numero uno if you need a refresher)!!! She will be officially affiliating with us on September 30th. YAY...it's very exciting. So we are 6...a big group!
With all of the "newness" and working off the adage of, "When one of us is new...we are all new"; it's a good practice in community to have sometime together to talk about how you want to share life with one another. We all bring expectations, ideas, and "non-negotiables" to how we want to live community. Getting together to focus on putting those things out on the table is a good way to start. Going away (rather than our living room, for example) allows us to really be present to the group and the weekend with fewer distractions that being at home would encounter.

So we gathered, we prayed, we played, we planned, we discussed, we negotiated, and we shared pieces of ourselves in order to begin to form our community life together. We had some deep sharing and also the important "nitty gritty" discussions (you know..who's cooking, who's cleaning, calendering...all those important detail things!)

I created our prayer service and discussion process using mandala as our framework (See April 19th entry "Run Away..with God" if you don't know what mandala is). We started with this blank mandala...if you notice, there are six circles along the perimeter and the same circle is in the very center. At one point in our prayer and sharing we colored in one of the outer circles to represent ourselves.


The mandala was left out throughout the weekend and people were welcome to add to it as they wished. To close our discussion, we each completed 1/6 of the center circle to symbolize our individuality/uniqueness coming together. The picture to the left is still mandala in progress....

We closed with a beautiful prayer service that Sr. Phyllis prepared on water and washing of the feet. Here are some pictures: To the right, is Deb washing Sr. Jan's feet.

And to the left, Sr. Arlene washing Deb's feet. Below is Sr. Beth washing Sr. Arlene's feet.

This washing of feet ritual is one of these recurring themes in my life. The first one was when I was accepted into affiliation on Holy Thursday and the Provies read the washing of the feet scripture and adapted it a bit and washed my hands.

I can be such a Peter-esque person in these situations! (Not something I like to admit either!) I remember thinking...Provincials...washing my hands really? I should be washing yours, Provies! Duh...Katy...duh...that's such a "duh, smack you in the face until you get it moment".

The first time I had my feet washed at a Holy Thursday service was one of these profound "God Moments" in my life. Very humbling...I still think about it. I even wrote some poetry (not something I'm moved to do very often) about that experience.

SO...in my life when things come around and around AND AROUND, (Hmm...kinda like a spiral, SMAM?) I'm learning that perhaps I should be attentive to this. These feet washing moments are becoming present to me more and more. I always seem to have some reaction to it that surprises me.

If I have a few spaces these next weeks...I'd like to reflect on that a bit. I think it's a good metaphor too for how we are living out our vows...stay tuned...I'll post something if I figure it out (ha! If I have some space...well gotta have goals.)

I'll post one more picture of the "finished product". My spiritual director is an artist, I saw her Friday and brought our mandala along to see if she could help me cut some matting to fit it. We played a bit and ended up framing it with some strings and paper around it. It looks great. We'll hang it in our living room to remind us of our weekend and our commitment to one another. Sorry it's a bit dark...I didn't want the flash to bounce of the glass...but trust me..it's cool! :-)

Now I HAVE to END this entry!!! It's 10:45 and I really should be in bed. I'm starting to get a cold (can we say STRESS...I hope I'm not starting my 3 week cycle of stress colds again. Grrrrrr) and 5:00 a.m. comes too quickly!

Peace out All!

Monday, September 10, 2007

1st Week and beyond...

We survived our first week of school! My faculty, staff, and students were fantastic. It just flew by. I was able to go into each classroom and greet the kids. I talked about "Sister Katy's 1 rule" RESPECT! Then we did a blessing of students, the kiddos blessed their teachers, and we all blessed our families. It was a neat day! The days are crazy; I never know what's going to happen, but I on the flip side, I like the adventure!

We have such a great group of kids at Holy Trinity. My favorite thing to do is to greet them at the door in the morning. The previous principal, June...always had them say "Thank You" when they left school. It's a nice custom and overall the kids are very conscientious about manners.

I am exhausted like I've never been before...but it's good tiredness. It's the "I've given everything I have" to this group of people fatigue. I love my job and I think it's going well.

This week...our first full week! I have LOTS of meetings this week. Every evening I have a meeting, some are Holy Trinity related, but most are community related. I'll probably crash this weekend.

That's the Principal land update...my living group went away this past weekend and I'll update on that experience in a separate post!

Ciao, ciao Bambinos!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Please send prayers!

One last post for tonight....

Please please please....send prayers and energy to me and my faculty these next three days! We are beginning our faculty in-service training tomorrow...I'm a bit anxious, given it's my first time. I just hope all goes well. I'm so happy to be at Holy Trinity and I just LOVE my faculty; I really hope these days are good for everyone.

Peace and all good!

Drum roll please....

FINALLY....I have an update from my 1st Profession Day for everyone! YAY!

This is what I'll do...I'll write a little synopsis/reflection; I've included a link to my photobucket slide shows with a more in depth annotated photo-tour of the celebration! Okie dokie?!

As soon as I get the DVD from the videographer I will put up some clips of the ceremony! That'll be exciting!

So...profession day....August 11....it was phenomenal! I still am floating 6 feet above the ground! Let me try to describe the day...

I had the best friends around me for the rehearsal...a great party was had by all the evening prior. Then Sr. Erin (my young and hip Ursuline Sister friend) suggested that we go BOWLING! I couldn't think of a better idea the eve before I vow away. Of course Sr. Mary Ann joined us...we bowled three games...one for each vow. I was consistent in my scoring of poverty and obedience and I slightly excelled in celibacy! :-) Then we shot a game of darts which got out any last minute jitters or frustrations. Then we went home to get a good night's sleep.

I was pretty tired from the rehearsal the evening before and of course I was a bit wound up.
I had the most powerful dream that night. One of our famous artist sisters, Sr. Helena Steffensmaier appeared to me in a dream. I have heard many many stories about Helena and I always wished I had met her, but she died in the early 90's. I woke up and I said to the Sisters, "I MET HELENA LAST NIGHT"...it was truly amazing here was my dream:



I was walking through a park, very vigorously. This petite woman was happily and peacefully walking toward me. When she got closer I stopped and said, "You're Sister Helena". She smiled and replied, "Yes I am." I just stood there staring at her in shock. She smiled and said, "Take time to sing and dance with God today!" And then she kept on walking.

The sisters I live with planned a really fantastic prayer blessing for me. It was really moving. All of the sisters blessed and anointed me...it was very humbling actually. It's always much more comfortable for me to give the blessing/anoint someone else...but receiving is sometimes difficult. To humbly accept the blessing from each of my sisters as they anointed my head, heart, hands, and feet was very powerful.

Then we had a nice breakfast and I was just trying to stay calm. At the rehearsal I didn't proclaim my vows because it just didn't seem right. So people were asking me if I wanted to practice then. I tried, but I just couldn't do it; I wanted to wait until it was the real thing I guess. Then I think partly just being anxious, excited, wound-up...whatever...I kind of freaked out (internal freak out...I'm not sure that people knew this! :-) ) So I went upstairs and put on some music and tried to calm myself down a bit. I thought about meeting Sr. Helena in my dream and what her message was to me. I tried to figure out what was going on in my head and why I was having this little freak out. So I just sat and had some quiet time and then I read my vows out loud for me and for Sr. Helena. I asked her to be with me that day. I guess I hadn't thought about the emotions that were running through my head with what this day meant for me. It was good that I took that space to center myself; that's not something I normally do.

Then it was get ready time...and then we were down in chapel. The liturgy was magnificent...full chapel, family, friends, colleagues...such support and affirmation! Sr. Mary Ann gave the homily and it was really wonderful. She wove in the readings and had messages for the congregation and a few for me! I moved between places of, "oooh I love her" and "oooh....I can't believe her!" I'm sure that's a feather in her cap...as she likes to torture me into GROWTH opportunities. Actually...it was touching on many levels, I was honored to have her in that role. My witnesses were Sisters Toni and Judeen; they started this religious life quest with me...and I couldn't imagine having anyone else in that role. Sr. Liz was my provie and that was special too. All of the Sisters whom I asked to be a part of the liturgy are so special to me in so many ways.

Making vows...it was really a profound moment for me. It sealed a commitment I have been discerning for 9 1/2 years and have known in my heart that I wanted to make. It was an outpouring of love that I have to give, but also asked me to open myself up to receiving love as well. The full chapel was such an affirmation of all of the support I have and people that I hold dear. My family...uber supportive and happy. My mommy made my beautiful dress; soooo special... Seriously...it was the "happiest day of my life"...I'm so grateful for an experience of true connectedness and contentment.

And now that you have endured a short reflection....I reward you with visual stimulation:
A big thank you to the photographers, Sam Lucero, Sr. Judeen Schulte, and Peg Flahive. Muchas Gracias...the pictures are awesome!
There are 5 slide shows (I could only have a few pictures for each) and I pasted them in chronological order...ENJOY!

Before the Liturgy Slide Show
http://s197.photobucket.com/albums/aa313/taukate/Profession%20of%20Vows/?action=view&current=bae5e2e5.pbw

Part 1
http://s197.photobucket.com/albums/aa313/taukate/Profession%20of%20Vows/?action=view&current=2df7876f.pbw

Part 2
http://s197.photobucket.com/albums/aa313/taukate/Profession%20of%20Vows/?action=view&current=3d2e86e4.pbw

Part 3
http://s197.photobucket.com/albums/aa313/taukate/Profession%20of%20Vows/?action=view&current=d465082b.pbw

Part 4--Final edition :)
http://s197.photobucket.com/albums/aa313/taukate/Profession%20of%20Vows/?action=view&current=cd7a1d7d.pbw

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

**LACK OF VOW INFO/PICTURES POST DISCLAIMER**

To my faithful readers:

Please accept my apology (ok...I'm groveling) for not posting all of the juicy details, along with some visual aids from my vow retreat AND Profession liturgy...THEY ARE COMING!!!

I'm 1 week before school starts with teachers and this Principal has been a crazy woman getting things all ready-set-go for my fantastic faculty! I'm a bit overwhelmed and nervous and excited and...and...and....but I tell ya...I get home at night and I'm just spent!

I do promise an update with some details and pictures this weekend when I have some "free time".

Thanks for understanding!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Vow this Woman!

WOW.....

I am officially a vowed woman! I am so exhausted I can't get my fingers to type. I promise a detailed update with pictures soon.

Retreat was one of the most profound experiences of my life....what a great way to move into the space for vows.

Yesterday...I'm speechless (and for those of you who know me...ha!)...it was beautiful and perfect in every way.

But now...yes..at 20 minutes to 10...I must go to sleep. I'm just kaputt!

Check back soon.....

Saturday, August 4, 2007

7 DAYS!

YES, Folks...we are 1 week away from Profession Day! I'm leaving on my "vow prep" retreat with 6 of our sisters in 1 hour...AHHHHHH........I'm soooooooooo excited!

Will report on the vow retreat on Wednesdayish upon my return.

Peace out!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

COUTDOWN COMMENCES

T-Minus


13 days, 1 hr, 38 mins....


I'm SO excited (dun da dun dun)

AND I JUST CAN'T HIDE IT (dun da dun dun dun)....


WOWie VOW-ie...Batman!


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I LOVE BEING A PRINCIPAL

I do...I am loving it...so far!

I had an incredible meeting with my middle school faculty about changes in their teaching loads. They were so open, flexible, and cooperative...music to any administrator's ears! It was truly a blessing. I am thrilled to work with them.

I love how welcoming everyone has been. I love meeting new people, prospective families...etc.

Tonight...I figured out something I DON'T LOVE...SCHEDULING...OY! I am forever indebted to Sr. Phyllis, former principal extraordinaire...patient as ever. She helped me figure out the schedule. We have some crazy factors to deal with too, namely our Wednesday school schedule is early release every Wednesday...so that was a challenge. Part-time specialties, making sure everyone meets their minutes...prep periods...YUCK. It was so challenging! I'm glad it's finished. I really worked hard on it and I'm proud that I could maintain my "keeping my heart in the classroom" philosophy through this process. I asked myself for every "weird" scheduling conundrum..."Would I be ok with this as a teacher?" So I hope my faculty understands some of the changes and EMBRACES THEM! We'll see....

Back to loving being a principal...yes...I'm loving it. It's busy and exciting. I'm nervous...but I think I've found a good place for me to minister and to set me off on this next adventure!

I'm SAVORING my HP (yeah right...I'm so freaking tired by the time I go to bed...I can't even READ!) Saturday...my goal is to sit in my backyard and read. Gotta have goals.

Peace out!

Monday, July 23, 2007

M.I.A.--oops!

I just received a comment that said, "One Fun Nun is M.I.A."....sooooo true. I apologize!
Here's the low down on my life the past weeks since retreat...on your mark...get set...GO!

RETREAT!

Retreat was wonderful. I had the most perfect weather, a great director, and I worked HARD! Dawn was fantastic as ever...she's so good at reading people, perceptions, and gives good (challenging, but good) homework. I spent the week reading some poetry and two "folk tales" of sorts that she gave me which really profoundly related to some of the things we were discussing.

I spent time with the folk tale, "The Snake Who Lost His Hiss"...moral being: "Don't hurt anyone...but sometimes you have to hiss". Hmmmm.....I'm still having reflection on that story. Dawn's that good...let me tell you!

The memorable poetry lines that are still vividly with me were:
From Mary Oliver's When I am Among the Trees
"When I am among the trees...I would say that they save me, and daily...never hurry through the world, but walk slowly, and bow often...and you too have come into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine."

I spent most of my days outside walking, walking, and more walking by Lake Michigan. I loved this image of walking slowly and bowing often (um..yeah..two of my retreat themes was "Slow down" and "be good to yourself") and I love the image of being filled with light and to shine!

The other poem that I loved was also a Mary Oliver entitled: Messenger; here are a few of my favorite lines:
"My work is loving the world...Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work, which is mostly standing still land learning to be astonished...which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart and these body-clothes, a mouth with which to give shouts of joy...telling them all, over and over, how it is that we live forever."
WOW...my work is loving the world...that was a neat image. The still not "half-perfect" hit me between the eyes. Hmmmm....
Dawn also gave me another poem to begin the week, which I hated. Well..ok...I didn't hate it...it was actually a beautiful poem. But I did hate my reaction to it; and in retreat land...that means "ooooh...struck a chord..HA..." In formation land...someone would ask you then, "Gee...your reaction to that is significant..what's underneath that?" Ick...that's all..it's just plain ick.
Finally...to relish my "FUN" and "PLAYFUL" side...I was given the book There's a Hair in my Dirt by Gary Larson (the Far Side dude). IT WAS HYSTERICAL...one of the best things I've ever read. It's all about interconnectedness from an ecological framework; however I believe the point my retreat director was trying to convey was that the matter in which we deal with things (or not deal with them) affects the "ecosystem" that the "issue" is connected with. I'm tellin' ya...I've never worked so hard on retreat! That spirit was on overtime!
I did quite a bit of mandala journaling too. I even have a couple that are kind of pretty! I was proud of myself because I really let go and used that creative space for a release as well as a way to let the spirit speak to me...AND SHE DID..no question about it. I'm not always that open; but when I am, great insights happen; so YAY for me for being open for a change!
How's that for an evasive description of the lessons of the spirit on my retreat??? It was a good retreat...I'm still processing it and trying to make some sense of these insights and how I can apply them for GROWTH (man oh man...I can't believe what I type sometimes).
SPIRITUALITY CONFERENCE
This past weekend we had our annual Spirituality Conference (we do this shin-dig every other year)! IT WAS AWESOME....almost 400 sisters and Associates gathered to listen, learn, and discuss God Centered Poverty. As one Sister I know who is making vows in approximately 18 days and 17 1/2 hours, really enjoyed it because of breaking open our call in relationship to the vows. Sr. Ingrid Peterson, a Rochester Frannie and Br. Bill Short an OFM were our speakers. Sr. Ingrid came to the novitiate and I just loved her then. She was equally as delightful and she and Br. Bill made a nice team. They were really playful and jovial...along with some pretty insightful information.
Some "quicks" I took away: Poverty is about giving to and for not giving up and away. We, by virtue of our vow...vow not to appropriate. We share LIFE in all aspects in common. This gives us a freedom. (Sidebar: Our vow formula is: I will be poor, so that I may be more free to give. oh yeah...we rock!) Several sisters raised the other vows like, "hey poverty's nice, but what about chastity and obedience?" Well Br. Bill and Ingrid had a good time dumping the answer onto the other person.
My reflection was, "If we don't appropriate...and this non-appropriating is at the center of the energy behind the vows, this can be translated to the other two quite simply. We don't appropriate in our relationships with others (chastity), and we don't appropriate in our decision-making (obedience). Franciscanism calls us to have our relationship at the root of our call/life together; non-appropriating draws us to deeper relationship with one another in a healthy way."
Anyway...I was all pumped...vows in less than 20 days...conference on vows...application to vows. VOW ME BABY.....I"M SO READY!
I sat at the most bomb-diggity table ever! It was me, Sr. Mary Ann, Sr. Rosemary, and Sr. Judy (whom I didn't really know...so that was nice to have someone I didn't know there too). THEN my two friends Sarah and Jen who are thinking about Associate Relationship (Well...Sarah is becoming an Associate in September and Jen is on her way too!). AND two women, Deb and Shemagne who are in various stages of discernment for vowed membership! It was great to get the different perspectives and experiences. Not to mention we were the fun table...laughing a lot and having a nice time.
I love the Spirit Conference. I think it's our Girls at our best. So many people come in...we pray, we play, we learn, we sing, we dance...it's fantastic. It was a wonderful weekend. Here's the link if you want to read more:
http://www.sssf.org/english/us-newsSpirituality.shtml They don't have pics up yet with updates...but hopefully that will be coming. Sorry I don't have pictures; sure did bring my camera...sure didn't take it out at all. Oops!
PRINCIPAL-ING
Well this is the primary reason I have not updated my bloggy-blog. I am in the throws of being a principal. In short: I LOVE IT and I'm EXHAUSTED. But exhausted in the best way; I guess. I'm trying to let myself adjust...I haven't been on a schedule like this for a while and EVERYTHING is COMPLETELY NEW...(remember that gentle, slow down stuff from retreat...yeah...it was great...for that week... ha ha). But I'm exhausted in a way that says, "Wow...this is really exciting. I'm nervous, but know I have support and good preparation. I feel like this ministry is a great match for my gifts. I think I can make a difference. And I'm so excited to learn."
I'm trying to get things prepared for school to start; I feel far behind, but my friends tell me I'm still ok. I'm working on the scheduling (OH MY GOSH...it's really a difficult task) right now. Then I will have to prepare for in-service and make sure the handbooks are up to date. It's a lot going on...and I am just SOOOO excited to have those kiddos walk through the door! I'll keep ya'll updated on how things are going.
And now...I must go to my Harry Potter book. For book 6; I stayed up until 2am to finish it the first night. Um...yeah...that's not happening this time...I'm savoring it...and loving every page. I love HP!
That's all I got for now...thanks for hanging in...in my MIA status!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

07-07-07

Today's date is really cool....I just had to have that as the title line.....

UPDATES!! UPDATES!! UPDATES!!

First of all...if you go back and reread Giving Voice Day 3...you will notice that I edited that post with photos and further reflections...I thought that would be easier than writing a new entry.

Well...this week back from Boston was BUSY.

I began officially at Holy Trinity as PRINCIPAL! WOO HOO! It was a full week; meeting people, getting my bearings, paperwork, etc. Sr. Toni came on Thursday to help me set up my office. I can't tell you what a gift that was! I got a big kick out of this...when I was a kid, I'd come to help Sr. Toni in her office and now she was helping me! Neato. Overall...it was a good week. I am just so happy and excited to be ministering with this community as their principal. It is indeed my next ministerial adventure...I'm up for the challenge...and uber excited for this upcoming year.

Check out the Boston Globe link: http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/07/07/sisters_savor_a_shared_religious_life?p1=email_to_a_friend

They did a great story on our conference in Boston. You may even recognize one of the interviewees!

I also have another rockin' site for ya'll to visit:

http://www.pray-as-you-go.org/index.htm

It's called "Pray As You Go". You can download, onto your Mp3 or computer the daily readings and a reflection. It IS SO COOL. Here's what the website says about the format:

A new prayer session is produced every day. It is not a 'Thought for the Day', a sermon or a bible-study, but rather a framework for your own prayer. Lasting between ten and thirteen minutes, it combines music, scripture and some questions for reflection.
The aim is to help you to:

  • become more aware of God's presence in your life
  • listen to and reflect on God's word
  • grow in your relationship with God.

It is produced by Jesuit Media Initiatives, with material written by a number of British Jesuits and other experts in the spirituality of St Ignatius of Loyola.Although the content is different every day, it keeps to the same basic format.

I leave for retreat tomorrow (AHHHHHHH--interpret that how you may) and I downloaded next weeks. I also downloaded the breathing (because some people indicate that sometimes I need to breathe more? I dunno) and the end of the day reflection. They are ok...not as good as the daily readings.

I admit, while listening to the end of the day reflection...I burst out laughing in the first minute. If you download it, listen to it, and know me a little..you should be able to guess what made me spit my water out of my mouth!

In all sincerity...I think this is the coolest thing I've found online in a long time. I like the STRUCTURE, the music, and the questions to ponder. I'll let ya'll know how they are on retreat. If any of you try it...I'd love to know your thoughts too! Leave me a comment!

YES...I leave for retreat...FOR A WHOLE WEEK. I'm going to the same place with the same Sister I did that mini-retreat with in March. So...it's 7 days with me, Dawn, God and the Spirit. Wowie...I hope it's a good retreat. I have had a bit going on...I'm "Transition Katy" right now...which isn't my best space to be in, but I'm hoping that the spirit works and I can LET GO and LET that spirit do her movin'. I won't be updating until I return...so leave me lots of comments! :-)

Peace until next week.........

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Giving Voice--Day 3

I have a few minutes to give an "unjust" recap of the experiences. I will have to delve into a more thoughtful reflection at another time.

I'm going to take a "non-traditional" blog approach and edit this entry with some more reflections on my time in Boston. I'll add my "new thoughts" in RED. :)

Yesterday afternoon we heard from Hermana Miriam, SNDdeN about listening to the heartbeat across cultural boundaries. She spoke of maintaining a "spirit of discernment", naming our fears, being rooted. We had a very thoughtful large group discussion following Miriam's talk. Miriam was authentic and engaging...it was a powerful talk/discussion.


Sr. Miriam shared her experiences in choosing to come to speak with us and from her ministry and life in Peru. She shared her fears and her aspirations. She talked about her experiences of a contemplative spirit and how that is her way to respond to working with the poor. She says, "We are with the poor, but we are not taking roots." she suggested that we must collaborate with others to confront the causes of poverty.
She challenged us to be PROPHETS..to "announce the Gospel and denounce evil"...in this challenge she also reminded us that we are called to discover our being and to develop a spirit of constant discernment. This spirit will help us to hear and read the signs of the times.
WOAH. Seriously...what a call. I found it interesting that she mentioned "not taking roots". She explained it that we know how to find the poor, but can the poor find us? It's an interesting question...one I'd like to bring to our community (and I also have some thoughts that resurfaced with Meg's talk). I loved that our call is to collaborate, read the signs of the times, and to live in a spirit of discernment. As much as the "D" word (discernment) makes me squirm...she raises a good point. I had some profound WOAH moments with this sloshing around in my head!
We had the pleasure to have Hna. Miriam in our small group. She brought a great perspective from her experiences in Peru to our discussion. Sr. Carolina, a Rochester Franciscan from Columbia was also in our small group. It was great to always have an international perspective in asking ourselves the question of "Who are we and what must we do as religious". I also appreciated that our circle was bilingual. Thanks to Sr. Mary, SNDdeN for all of her hard work translating. I loved the experience of communicating in two languages; it was good practice for my Spanish!

(In my Bostonian accent:) Then our evening was a night on the town in Bahstun. We ahl hahpped on the Chah-ley and went dahntahn. The-ah was lahv music and good eahten. Then some of us went to the originahl Cheer's eatery to have a hisahrical moment. We wahked ahrahnd the Nahrth end and the Fahnueil Hall ahrea. We managed to lahugh a little (ha!) and have some fun together. It was great. (Hey SMAM...) We didn't pahk the cahr; however...sahhry.

Today has been deep and intense. We heard from Sr. Meg Guider, OSF from Joliet on listening to the collective heartbeat of Religious life. She was amazing. I will write about my head-sloshing later...I can't right now; but don't fret...I will post about my thoughts...I just need to organize the sloshing a bit first..it's so exciting. I regret...I didn't have my camera during her talk...SORRY MEG! :(
MEG! Sr. MEG WAS SO INCREDIBLE. First of all...I must say...she is a TEACHER and a phenomenal one at that. Her energy and engageability (ha! I just made that word up) was great. I hope I can take a class from her sometime. Her style was...hmmm..."I'm going to give you some input that is totally exhilarating, but I'm not going to answer all the questions for you. I'm going to leave a lot open ended so you have to THINK, CRITICALLY...make some conclusions and ask more questions..." I was in heaven.
Sr. Meg gave us 3 "themes" to think about when we are listening to the heart of religious life:
1. Reciprocity--How do you understand this? How do you live reciprocity? I internalized this as sub themes of accountability and mutuality. How are we calling one another to ???? community life? to Mission? And am I open to the reciprocal interchange? (That can be the tough part)
2. Imagination and Visibility--This was my favorite theme (surprise surprise). MAKE IT HAPPEN. She really challenged us to think about how are we visible? She used the "Sisters at Selma" as examples of visibility and imagination. She also challenged us to think about ways to be visible together...our 2in lapel pins and 4 inch congregational symbol necklaces...perhaps aren't as visible as we think. Are we being as visible as we can...for the good of others? MAKE IT HAPPEN..takes creativity and imagination. Our foundresses, Sisters at Selma, etc...didn't take 3 years to strategically plan, vote, vote again, have open mic...etc...they did it; with imagination. (We were CRACKING UP...at that example...that is SO how we do business these days in our congregations!)
3. Motherhood of Spirit--Meg juxtaposed a mother's journey with our journey of "birthing ideas"; "A mother puts her life at risk by bringing new life into the world, thus she will defend the life she has brought forth." As women religious (Spiritual motherhood), are we putting our lives at risk? Are we defending the "life" in our care?
AND...of all the things Meg said...this was imprinted on MY BEING. "WRITE YOUR LIVES IN BLOOD, NOT INK". Meaning, we talk and we write and we talk some more and we write and draft up these documents...BUT do we REALLY LIVE what we COMMIT OURSELVES TO? This image of writing our lives in BLOOD was carried through in many of our small group discussions. There's a finality...and a different meaning to the commitment with this image.

Now we are trying to sort through the collective sloshing of the group. We are finding that through this contemplative experience; words are difficult because they box us in. Sometimes there are no words. We are speaking in images and metaphors...and still can't articulate the heart of the matter. Our group has taken the "non-traditional" approach in many ways....more about that later too.
The picture on the left (below) is one of our "non-traditional" approaches; from the session processing Meg's talk. We were supposed to write where our group was in the process of answering the question: "As women religious, here and now, who must we be, what must we do?"
As I said before...it was so hard to come up with words. We felt very boxed in. What we did agree was that we needed (and felt) the freedom to keep asking the questions. So we took our sentence: "We are called to be free enough to continue to live into the questions with integrity" and wrote it in the shape of a question mark.
The photo on the right (above) is our final "non-traditional" approach. This was the synthesis of all of our responses. We were to put our "image" on the white paper and with blue slips of paper add the themes that affected our group. We were going to leave the white paper blank to make our statement but then we started talking about movement and "looking through" toward the future. We decided to cut a whole in our paper so that we could look through...the blue slip of paper had the words on it that we began with in the 1st exercise (in English and Spanish).
We thought that this amount of ambiguity allowed not only for all of our interpretations to be heard, but also the voice of the other participants. It was important for our group to say that the movement of the spirit passes through back and forth and we need to look through the lens of "big issues" toward the future. YEE HAH! Our paper created lots of discussion when we did our walk around to view other groups...exactly what we were looking for!

Okie dokie...back to the hall for now...but please visit soon...I will have more to share!
I have loads more pictures from the liturgy, the dance (yes...we danced and danced and danced), and the closing ritual that I will try to put on a slideshow similar to the graduation post.
So there's my more intensive update; if you haven't inferred already...Giving Voice 2007 was an incredible experience. I wrote to one of my Sisters that I had all of these "WOAH..OH NO...OH YES...WOO HOO...YIPEE...OH CRAP....YEE HAH..." insights...which is very very good. Now it's the "share those insights shminsights and MAKE IT HAPPEN time" ....yikes!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Giving Voice Day 2--Morning Session

This morning's topic was "Listening to the heartbeat of God and Ourselves". As I mentioned yesterday; we are tapping into the wisdom to learn into the future. We began with a phenomenal PowerPoint presentation with many images of creation. This centered us on our call, religious life, and God's presence. It was mission focused, but not in the sense that we always talk about mission in our congregations. One quote (paraphrased) that made an impact on me was,

Mission is God's initiative, God's activity. The subject of mission is God. Mission is the primary work of God's spirit renewing the face of the earth.

This led us into an introduction of the contemplative discussion process we are using. This process asks us to open ourselves to listen and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable. We take time to write out our responses and our initial sharing is reading them--with no dialogue. We held each persons reflection and then prepared ourselves to focus on the next person in our circle.

I was a bit skeptical of this process (not being so used to this contemplative stuff and always embracing an opportunity for vulnerability); however, it is a really beautiful process. I appreciate the structure, time and space for reflecting. The initial sharing is thoughtful and really engages us as listeners. We are present to each person and what they are speaking to us. After every one has shared we have the opportunity to raise questions or comment on things that struck us.

I took my 35 mins of space for my reflection; went for a walk with Sr. Erin (an OSU from Cleveland) and then spent the last 20 mins writing. The question we are using is: As women religious, here and now, who must we be, what must we do? The response was from our own experiences.

Ok...usually with these things...I'll make a list, or let things slush around a bit. I sat down, was quiet for a few minutes...and WOOOOSH....the sloshing was spewing onto my paper! It was really powerful! Took me off guard and by surprise totally! This was my reflection:

"Women of God, you are called to live into your "YES". Your "YES" which comes from a place of energy, joy, passion and deep commitment. Your "YES" which will keep you learning.

Your "YES" which will help you to trust the wisdom--wisdom you have and wisdom you will encounter.Live into your "YES". Your "YES voice" will speak your truth; it will speak your heart; it will keep you centered in God. YES, God calls you to this "YES".

God also calls you to unite your YES with others--to listen to their "YES". God asks you to listen for those who are unable to speak their YES. The unspoken YES--you are called to hear it and walk with those whose YES may be buried. Walk with them--hear their voice.

Live into your YES, Learn from the Yes's which surround you, spoken and silent. If YES is uncomfortable or challenging--GOOD. Underneath any YES, is God-embracing you with the Yes of the Divine."

During the sharing....people's reflections and thoughts to answer this question were so moving. There were some similar elements and themes: risk taking, joy, passion, openness, movement, authenticity...just to name a few. Profound and prayerful...very energizing.

I was thinking about my reflection of YESness...there is a Sister who was one of our congregational leaders, Sr. Lauretta. I never met her; she died at a young age. I hear stories about her and read a few things about her...and just felt this connection. It's strange. She inspires me in some ways through these stories. One of her personal quotations is, "Yes to God, all my life." Wow...I guess the stories about her touch me in a deeper way in light of the experiences here. Yes to God...all my life...listen for the Yes's....Thanks Lauretta!

This afternoon we are listening to the heartbeat of our Brothers and Sisters in Latin America! Will update soon....

Peace and all good.....YESSSSS!