Friday, December 27, 2013

The Meaning of Christmas

"I think that I shall never see,
a poem lovely as a tree..."

I used this poem in a preaching I gave from the reading in Isaiah regarding the stump of Jesse for my congregation in Columbus, OH. The deep rootedness of the tree of Jesse gives rise to a sprout who we have named 'Wonderful, Counselor, Almighty God, Prince of Peace'. What we are given at Christmas is the entire universe made manifest in one human being. Who can begin to comprehend that?  Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear? Who can understand that the entire universe has been gifted by God to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear?

As I have spent these last few weeks away from the Novitiate in St. Louis, it has become clearer and clearer what a gift the canonical year thus far has been. As Kathy noted last week, there is so much to be grateful about.  Where else would I be able to spend a full year discerning, reflecting, learning, becoming more and more aware of God's great love for me, for us? Although it can be traumatic to learn just how inadequate I am in some areas of my life, it is also exhilarating to discover gifts I never knew I had!!  And to be enveloped by the warm, welcoming, hospitality and love of these Sisters of Peace is an enormous gift that each human being in the world should have an experience of at least once in their lifetime. It helps me to understand what it means to be human and to be the beloved of God.

So in this season of Christmas, I wish you the gift of Christmas, a newborn child, containing within himself the entire universe, to be given away for you and for me.

"...Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree."

Friday, December 6, 2013

My End of Year Top Ten List

As Christmas break fast approaches and we prepare to head off to our Motherhouses, we novices have been reflecting on what we have learned and how we have changed since coming to the CDN in August.  So, here is my version of David Letterman’s Top Ten List of “What I Believe and/or What I Have Learned”.  This list is certainly not exhaustive…

 10) I believe “letting go” … of things, of habits, of behaviors … does not mean letting go of responsibility for my thoughts, emotions or actions.  In the
       same vein, I believe that I will never be open to new possibilities if I approach them
       with clenched fists.
   9) I have learned that St. Catharine, Kentucky, and Springfield and River Forest, Illinois are gorgeous places where beautiful and unbelievably hospitable women and men work and reside.     
             8) I believe chocolate really is one way God let’s us know we are loved. I have also been told and have come to believe that because chocolate is made from a bean, which grows on a tree, it must be a vegetable and is, therefore, good for you. So bring it on.
7) I have learned that living in a diverse community of intelligent, loving women has
    enriched my life in ways I never expected. 
6) I believe that being a risk taker in the most positive sense of the term can open windows
    and doors to unbelievable opportunities, people and experiences.  And I am so grateful
    for every single one of every single one of them.
5) I have learned that when I am willing to take a leap of faith, I will either be taught to fly 
    or will be caught by God in my fall.
4) I believe in the power of affirmation and in the grace of gratitude.
    I believe there is no limit to how big one’s heart can grow.
3) I am learning what it means to be Dominican and what exactly that means in the context of   
    living the vows of obedience, celibacy, and poverty/simplicity.
2) I am learning how to preach but I am also learning that our most  powerful preaching is 
    done by example, in how we live our lives.
1) Number One Belief:  We are loved by God beyond our wildest imagination and we have 
    been loved and held up by all of you “out there”.  We are so extremely grateful for that love 
    and support. Peace and Blessings to each of you during this holy season of Advent!
Now tell me, what would your Top Ten list of learnings/beliefs include?