community connections

When I was first actively discerning religious life (as opposed to actively denying that I might have a vocation which I did for a long time), community was not the biggest pull for me. I know that there are studies of younger religious that point to community as the biggest draw, but this wasn't true for me. I've written about this before, but basically what I felt was a call to serve and a call to be a person of prayer. Religious life seemed to be the place to put those two together.

God ended up surprising me (as God is apt to do). Turns out, community is a big part of what I find life giving (and challenging) about religious life, both in daily living and in the larger vision work. We are who we are and we go about what we do together. And yet, somehow, we still manage most times to find the balance of also being who we are as individuals.

Granted, 4 months of non-stop community living in the Novitiate House has not been perfect. There have been challenges and stressors as we continue the hard work of building community. And yes, at times I have yearned for my former singleton life.

Yesterday was an interesting day. I was all alone, all day, for the first time since I was received as a Novice in August. I enjoyed the "Susan time." But you know what I also appreciated??? That I had phone calls from 3 Sisters from the West who knew that I'd be home alone. It was a chance to catch up and reconnect without tying up the phone (since I'm the only one here to use it). It was also a great reminder of the larger community connections, beyond these four walls. It's easy sometimes to get so swept up in the Novitiate experience that you forget the larger picture. I'm not entering the community to be a novice. I'm a novice to enter the community. I've come to appreciate the east coast groovy sisters, but I miss the special brand of west coast grooviness. It was nice to reconnect with that.

Today I spent the afternoon with a priest friend of mine that I know from my parish community in Portland. He made it through not one but two novitiates, so he was kind enough to set aside a block of time to visit with me when he was visiting family in New Jersey. Again, so nice to reconnect.


Anonymous said...

Community is a big attractant for me. I like teamwork and community has much of that. On the flip side, my experience of "family" was suffocating. So it's not that I'm looking to live in a crowd. It is my belief that religious communities know how not to be suffocating.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh! I love this quote:

"I'm not entering the community to be a novice. I'm a novice to enter the community."

I think I'm going to make a poster out of it and take it with me whenever I go to my Novitiate! :)