Sunday, May 20, 2012

What does it mean to be family?

Have we ever taken the time to ponder such a question?  Growing up, the pictures I drew always included my mother and father.  Even if my sister and I weren’t getting along, she was always in my picture.  I was blessed then, as I am now, for there was nothing I lacked.  I never knew what I “needed”.  But as I grew older I began to see more clearly that the love and support of family is God’s gift freely given.  It wasn’t then, nor is it now, the things I acquired that gave me the opportunities I have been blessed to receive.  It was the encouragement and support that instilled in me confidence to find the path God has carved out for me.

I am a novice with the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill, but more importantly, I am a novice learning what it means to be a member of the Dominican family.  I was blessed as a child with a family who nurtured and taught me the importance of giving of myself.  I am blessed as a woman in discernment with a family who models for me the challenges lived, and graces given, when we continue to focus on the “we” and not simply the “I”; that as big as we are, the need for one another stretches beyond our local communities.

So, I ask you what we were asked this past week…

“How important is being family for me personally as a Dominican?”  

Novice in the Dominican Family 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tick, Tock

So, my watch broke....again (this is the second watch this year!). The problem is, I'm one of those people that really, really depends on her watch. I like knowing what time it is, what I'm doing during that time, what I'm going to be doing at a future time, etc. This not knowing has thrown me for a loop. However, I think this may be a blessing in disguise. (What isn't, after all?)

You see, another thing that's going on here (besides a broken watch) is that things are kind-of, sort-of beginning to wind down. We had our last intercommunity novitiate class last week and our final Aquinas classes this week. This means people around us are asking “How much longer do you have left?” and even “Are you counting the days?” However, the problem is that even though the classes are winding down, the novitiate is still going strong. We have Dominican Learning Seminars, papers, presentations (anyone out there have any good insights into the Rule of St. Augustine? Please share!), trips, etc. We are still busy! Formation continues! (Formation always continues!)

I am especially aware of this because, for most of my life, I have not been very good at living in the present moment – I'm always planning ahead or bemoaning what I've missed out on in the past. Usually, near the end of an experience like the CDN, I'd be worried about having to “fit it all in” or “but I'm not ready to leave.” In other, less positive experiences, I'd be worried about exactly how many days were left or planning out my schedule for what comes next. But that's not the case here – I'm not worried about finishing too soon or too late. I'm not overly concerned about what remains to be done or what will happen after. I'm just enjoying this time for what it is, and I'm concentrating on making it as useful and productive as all the previous time here at the CDN has been. That's good enough for now.

So, if you want to know how much time we have left at the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate, don't ask me. My watch broke.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Spring Has Arrived

Here in St. Louis, spring came a lot earlier than I am used to in Chicago and Milwaukee. The flowers are out and some have even lost their petals and are now just providing green for the landscape. Kelly has  taken advantage of the warmer weather and planted many seeds in the flowerbeds and a number of pots on our porch. I have enjoyed watching the bits of green come up and then turn into leaves and hopefully soon flowers and herbs. I often find myself outside talking to the plants encouraging them and becoming excited when I see new growth.

Last Friday, I had the privilege of planning a day of reflection for our CDN community, so I utilized what was given to us outside by focusing on seeds and plants. There is a lot of effort and work going on in the soil as the seed breaks open and is transformed. On the plants journey to the surface it might have to move pebbles and soil around and fight for water. Most of this is going on before we see any progress.
Thinking about this past year, a lot of the work that we have done has been below the surface. Inner growth and struggles that are not obviously apparent to the people around us. We have pushed aside old behaviors and yearned for experiences that nourish and sustain us. Over the course of the year each one of us has blossomed into a unique and strong woman living the Dominican Charism because of the struggles and joys we have been presented with.