lessons in community

“In all our effortsto be a community for mission,we acknowledge our interdependence with one another and our reliance on the love and fidelity of God to lead us into the way of peace.”
-CSJP Constitutions 37

One of the main goals of candidacy with thegroovy sisters is to deepen my understanding and experience of community. When I was on retreat during Ash Wednesday week (it seems MUCH longer ago!), I took this picture. It reminded me of Community with a capital “C.” I wrote in my journal at the time:

Community is God’s gift to me. In all honesty it is not what attracted me to religious life, at least not in the abstract. I’m an introvert by nature and enjoy my time alone. But I felt a call to serve and a call to prayer, and it seemed like it was in religious life that I could best combine the two. As God is apt to do, God surprised me when I went from the abstract to the concrete. How was I to know that in the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace I would begin to understand and appreciate the value of Community with a capital “C.”

“ Community life sustains us in ministry.
Likewise ministry enlivens and enriches
our life in community.”
-CSJP Constitutions 19

Community with a capital “C” is sustaining. When I’ve been submerged in the chaos of work these last few weeks, I have felt the sustaining support of my local community. Preparing for this time of retreat, I knew that I was being held in prayer by my Sisters-to-be. And in the years to come, I know that like the trees in this picture, my branches will reach out in concert with the branches of my Sisters, providing shelter and shade to those in need. Community for mission. I get that. We’re able to do so much more together than alone. Community doesn’t mean absorption into group think or becoming a carbon copy Sister. Just like the variety in these 3 trunks, it is in our variety that we find strength. God is calling me to add my brand of “me” to “us.
The past few weeks of craziness have deepened this experience. I’ve received such strength and support from my sisters-to-be. I was at a loss. I reached out knowing they’d be there for me. And they have been. So simple and yet so mysterious this living in community thing. And even though I live 180 miles away and on my own most of the time (with only periodic groovy sister reserve weekends for real in person community living), I already feel the support and connection of living in community, even at a distance. Pretty amazing.

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