Friday, February 22, 2008

Community LIFE--sharing LIFE together...

When people ask me what about religious life attracts me...I can name several reasons why religious life is a fit for me. Being committed to a common mission, sharing a common spirituality, being connected on a global level to our Sisters across the world...those are just a few. When I was in my initial discernment process, I made the distinctions: I could work and be actively involved in my faith without being a vowed religious. Above all of these components it was the aspect of community life; sharing LIFE together which made a distinction in my call to religious life.

When I was in the novitiate, we were fortunate to have some classes in Franciscan spirituality. In a workshop on Evangelical Life (highlighting the uniqueness of the Franciscan charism), we learned that especially for those who are living vowed life as Franciscans, it is the relationship of community that is at our core. This is our energy force; where we are sustained, enlivened, and receive the energy we need to go out to minister and support our mission. wonder I am so at home as a Franciscan!

As I continue to experience community life in many learning, integration, and love deepens. I'm starting to better conceptualize the integration that has already taken place these last 4 years of living in community and also articulate where I still need some work! :-) (G-R-O-W-T-H the ultimate in formation cliches...and yet so true I hate to admit it!)
So...what's important to me in community, as I continue to share life and this commitment of love with my Sisters? What have I learned?

What's important to me? It's important for me to live in a community where sharing LIFE in different ways is a priority. I have been blessed with this, in that in all of my different living configurations (and my groups with whom I don't physically reside) have committed to sharing LIFE; rather than living next to one another. It's important to me to have some balance between--shared group time and Katy-time. Even when it's difficult, I think it's important to be challenged and to challenge. Freedom is important, but also accountability. And finally...time to pray together and time to play together!

Community any family or context has its ups and downs but it's that whole love thing again that helps me to say, "YES" every day. That is the best lesson I have learned so far.

So now that all of this reflecting is about some pictures? I have had two wonderful opportunities to pray and play with my living groups! I thought the pictures and stories would be fun...


My living group (the one I actually reside with) has formal community night 2 times per month. This includes a nice meal, longer prayer--sometimes with some sharing, and a meeting or check-in type gathering. We take turns creating the prayers so that we get a change to experience our different styles. I really look forward to our community nights! Our group (and I'm the worst offender) is very busy and often aren't all together the 6 of us, so this time together is sacred time; it helps us grow together as a group and keep that community life at our core.

Because this configuration of people with whom I live is fairly new...we thought it was a great idea to take turns telling our life stories. Sr. Jan went first and shared with us highlights from her life up until the present. To the right, is a picture of Sr. Jan's family; the left picture is of Sr. Jan...awww how cute! Sr. Jan grew up in Milwaukee and also spent some of her religious life in the "West" (more mid-west, but that's what they called it in community back then. :) ) and big part of her ministry was served in Chicago as a lawyer. Sr. Jan also had been a high school teacher and a campus minister. Sr. Jan told us great stories of her many experiences...she's spunky and tried some pretty great things in her life (even tap dancing)! Here is a video clip of Sr. Jan telling a part of the beginning of her discernment story:

Honoring our individual stories, hearing the histories of my Sisters, and learning how and why we come together on this crazy journey of religious life is always such a great experience of prayer for me. I also think it's one of those moments where you grow closer together as a group; we've begun to create a common history.

My "other living group" is a group of Sisters whom we call the "White House Sisters"; they live in a white, farm house located on Alverno College's campus. I know I've blogged about the White House before, but I'm not sure that I've included pictures. I've known the White House Sisters for many years...since 1998 when I was an undergraduate student at the college. Long story short...I became an adjunct member of their living group in 2003ish when I began discerning (the second time) with the SSSFs. I'm usually with them Saturday nights for Mass and dinner and sometimes for other events too. For religious life in the year 2008 means being creative in how one shares life with people. The White House Sisters have made me a welcome member of their group and I am so grateful to be a part of sharing life with them. Of course...we pray, share, discuss, and challenge one another too...another thing we do extremely well together is PLAY!

We wanted to do something really fun for 3 of the Sisters (Judeen, Joyce, and Marlene) who celebrated a milestone birthday in the last few months. We decided to host one of those "do-it-yourself" mystery theatre parties! It was a riot. Sr. Judeen and I cooked up a storm, everyone came in costume and played their parts amazingly well. It was just fun, fun, fun! We invited our friends Fr. Bill and Br. Paul to join us for this special evening. To the left (in character and costume of course) we have Br. Paul (Mark Lester--the "host"--serious and sneaky...very funny!), Sr. Marlene (Christine--a lazyish, spoiled girl...we loved her eye rolling throughout the evening), and Sr. Mary (Dorthy Mae--she was clairvoyant...and did a great job convincing us!) Then of course we had "Big Bill" the Texan oil man complete with cowboy hat and all! He was a hoot...and vacillated between several accents throughout the night; he had us laughing and laughing! Then there was Florence (Sr. Kathleen) and Candy (Sr. Judeen) with her beautiful blonde locks! Not the culprit of the evening's crime, but very convincing in their dedication to their roles. Finally, we had Sr. Liz playing the part of Roberta, Mark's best friend. Sr. Joyce was Eleanor...quiet and reserved...could we trust her? And the dazzling red dress, playing the part of Desiree, complete with German accent the whole evening!

Here are some other pictures of the evening:

We even gave out some awards: Best costume (Candy), Best Actor (Desiree), and Funniest person (Big Bill)! And finally....the group shot.

 was had by all. And...this is not our "typical" weekend gathering of having fun...usually it's a movie, game of cards, or an intense discussion. But celebrating is an important part of our life together too...and I'm not the only "Fun Nun" around! :-) Great experiences of community...and a little reflecting to go with it. All different reminders and recommitting that "Yes" for me everyday...

Praying, Playing...peace and all good!

1 comment:

Lisa said...

What wholesome portrayals of life in community!