Consuming fire, love that expands my heart to lengths I never thought possible,
Can we talk again? And when words are useless, inadequate and incomplete, can we talk in silence? And when silence is too loud, can we talk again with laughter? Can we hold hands and touch each other’s cheeks? And when touch is too much, can we part ways –you leaving with my heart and I’ll take yours? And when distance is too much, can we call the world to bring our hearts together? And when the pulse of our hearts is too loud, can we let the world to hold us until there’s no more me, you, they but only one breath, one body…
I am directionally challenged. If you tell me to go East or West, I’ll give you the puzzled look that says, “plain English please.” Left or right I can do. Cardinal points not so much. I can also doubt my choice for one direction vs. another. But my experience has been that there is no right or wrong turn when it comes to following God’s call. The crucial element is thriving to be authentic. In St Louis I have encountered numerous people whose main goal is to live authentic lives. The place that I first considered a temporary stop has become a home of communities, and I am so grateful for God’s invitation to take this step.
When I moved to St. Louis, I was already tired of building relationships in new places only to have to say goodbye a few months later. And let’s face it: Who has the energy, not to mention the time, to maintain ALL relationships, especially when you need to be present to a new community –and when you need to pay close attention to everything you’re experiencing? As much as we stay in touch with family members and friends, the transformation of relationships is inevitable. With each letting go of what we once knew and experienced, we walk into the unknown hoping that that which we will find is so much more than that which we have left behind. We are always mourning and rejoicing. Mourning a past that had its own dreams in its own future and rejoicing in the new dreams and hopes of a future we yet have to see. Deep down we know that what we follow is beyond anything we have imagined. Guides along the way welcome us not with signs for directions but with so much more: with their witness to a life they live through daily commitment.
The communities I have met at Aquinas Institute, at the Dominican Priory, at the Inter-community novitiate, at my ministry, and in the city that welcomed us with kind, warm people have all enriched my discernment. However, I couldn’t have come to appreciate them had I not had the support of my CDN community. Through our tears of sorrow and joy, through our serious and playful times, through our daily living, I have become more of me -- I have embraced my own unfolding identity with reverence and joy. I have celebrated with them my Romanian heritage, my struggles as an immigrant, and my voice is more authentic because of their listening hearts. If this blog entry reads more like a love letter, then know you’re not mistaken. It is a love letter for the God who called us to discern religious life and for the people who have allowed me to be me.
In August Alexa, Jenn, Joye, Megan, and Renee were the names of my new community members. Today they are so much more. They are my sisters. They are the women who take the time to give me driving directions in my own language (with left and right not E or W). They are the women who hum for me so I can lead chanting because I cannot read music –and they encourage me all along. They are the women who fast with me and offer me support with their prayers. They are the women who invite me to consider my shadow side when I’d rather ignore it for a while. They are the women who remind me that when the time comes, I am the only one who can push for new birth and they will be right there by my side with their cheering pompons (metaphorically speaking). They are the women I would CHOOSE for community but instead God chose them for me this year, and all I can say is, “Thank you, God.”
If I were to summarize what my experience has been, then this is how I would describe this fall semester: I have learned that despite all risks, being vulnerable is the only way I can live my call as a follower of Jesus Christ. I have learned that people surprise you when you open the eyes of your heart. I have learned that as much as I dislike surprises, I also love them. I have learned that when we surrender to God, we become a paradox ourselves. I have learned that our models of living religious life come not only from those who witness to an authentic life, but also from those who do not. I have learned that I bring my own prejudices to every encounter only to discover how limited my love is. I have learned that everyone does the same...
~ Adela Langa, Adrian Dominican Sisters