Things are beginning to really speed up, now that we’re reached the second half of our year here. We’ve just reached another major milestone. This weekend the formators from our sending communities are in town, and we are doing our mid-year evaluations. The Board of the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate, which consists of representatives from the 16 member congregations throughout the US, are also in town for their annual meeting. Yesterday we shared with them, in a presentation that was very well-received, what has been most impactful to us and how we’ve grown during the year. So in the last couple of weeks, the thrust has been on looking back to see where we’ve been, as well as in finding the words to describe the place where we are now.
I thoroughly enjoy the experience of being catapulted from mere knowledge of something to an actual awareness of it; and I see, as I looked back in the past 14 months that I’ve been in religious life, a number of these occurrences. One of the most profound and recent of such experiences has been on the subject of vocation. Much has been written on this topic, which I won’t repeat here; rather I want to share the unique way in which I got from knowledge to awareness. The turning point, the aha! moment, came when first I drew my “social atom” and then afterwards, when I reflected on the quality of each of the relationships I had drawn. The social atom, a psychological tool developed by J. L. Moreno, is a graphical snapshot of the significant relationships and issues in one’s life at a particular time. It is a way to know oneself in context. And what had reflected back to me from my drawing, apart from how radically my life had changed in the last couple of years, was how much of my relationships and issues have truly constellated around my relationship with God and the living of that in religious life. I was, and in fact still am, shocked by how absolutely everything in my life has been ordered and re-ordered to this constellating principle. I became aware that that is what this life, this vocation, means. And the fruit of that realization: deeper meaning and tangible form to the discernment questions of I am called to this and Is this the best way for me?
Another kind of experience that I thoroughly enjoy is when seemingly unrelated efforts begin to dialogue with one another and produce resonance. In my Foundations of Spirituality class, we spent quite a bit of time diving into the theology behind the doctrine of the Virgin Mary, with most of us still left scratching our heads wondering if it’s really quite ineffable. How is she different from the rest of us? Part of the key to the mystery of the Theotokos (the God-bearer) lies in her being “full of grace” (Luke 1:28), which we are not. But also now, through the lens of vocation, particularly her vocation, she has taken on a whole new meaning for me – a rich ore that I will be mining for some time.
And so how about you? Got vocation?