“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one [most] traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
We like to think that we are unique and special, in some cultures more than others, and while we are each created in God’s image and with a diversity of gifts that testifies to God’s abundant love and mercy, we are finite beings that need to be reminded of our humanity not just of our divine heritage. In the end, we all share a longing…
A few years ago I embarked on a beautiful, challenging journey that is both unique and ordinary. I joined a wonderful religious community, and that has made all the difference.
Whatever path we take, someone else has already walked that road, and yet by the very fact that we make this choice at this particular time and place, we shape the path in a new way. But in order to be able to choose, one needs to have the freedom to make that choice. Unfortunately, freedom can be mistaken for obedience to society, or cultural norms, so what is freedom?
Growing up on another continent I never thought I would be entering religious life in a foreign land, and yet, here I am. But isn’t this a path that so many women and men have taken?
A question I often get is, “Why would someone who experienced an oppressive government join a religious congregation?” The shorter answer I give is, “Why not?” The longer answer is a statement on the rights and responsibilities of a free person. People who take freedom for granted forget that in a free society one has the right to make his/her choices in accordance to one’s conscience, and following our informed conscience is a responsibility we have as free individuals.
At the time of my reception into the novitiate, on April 17, 2011, I stated, “Continuing my discernment with the Adrian Dominican Sisters is a walk into freedom. With each choice I am my own individual and at the same time part of a community of women who walk side by side with women and men across centuries and continents. We are indeed members of one body, diverse by our very existence, and yet united.”
Today I continue to stand by that statement. My sisters have been witnesses to the commitment it takes to stay faithful to the choice they made many decades ago, and their faithfulness has always been rooted in their love for God and God’s people. I am inspired by their life-long faithfulness to our Catholic identity, and with them I never have to be anything else than be who I am. I treasure the support and love they so freely give because they know that once you have experienced God’s love, you cannot exist but by loving God’s people.
There is much to be said about respecting people’s freedom to make their own life choices, and maybe from time to time we all need a course on the rights and responsibilities of a free person. I wonder if we realize the tremendous gift we have to be able to freely choose our path, and the responsibility we have to use that freedom not as a weapon against those who make choices different than ours but rather as a tool to dig deeper in our own identity and foster respect for all life.