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!