a retrospective tuning in

One year ago this weekend, I added some letters to the beginning and end of my name. Yes, it's the one year anniversary of my reception as a Novice with the Sisters of St Joseph of Peace. 24 more years and I can celebrate my Jubilee! Tomorrow's the actual day, but as we'll be welcoming Dorothy as a novice tomorrow I suspect it will be a busy day - hence, this retrospective post one day early.

Much of my experience this year - as regular readers know - has been of the unbloggable variety. It has been quite a challenge to write and share the inner journey, as well as my journey into community. I've utilized an old friend of mine - music - and a newer friend - the ipod - the try to blog the unbloggable. I call it "tuning in," - the concept is to put the ipod (or itunes) on shuffle and see if a common theme emerges, recognizing that the Holy Spirit can work in many ways. I've
created a label if you'd like to read earlier posts in the "tuning in" series.

But on to today ...

Song # 1 - "It Happens Everyday" by Dar Williams

Life is as hard and as easy as they say
Walking the steps we've chosen on this day
Some will be outrageous, some have rarely shown
Some will walk in couples, some will walk alone
As I think about the world I see
They stare and smile at me, at me

Do you remember the Barbie Doll that caused quite a controversy because when you pulled her string, one of the things she would say was, "Math is Hard"? Well, I often find myself pulling my own imaginary string and saying "Novitiate is hard." The inner journey is not for the faint of heart, and neither is living in community or growing from independence to interdependence. And yet, I find myself wanting to continue walking the steps I've chosen, that I continue to choose, each day. Religious life is a counter-cultural choice that comes with its own challenges, but deep down I'm realizing that I think it's the right one for me.

Song # 2 - "Different But the Same" by Ben Kweller

We contemplate, you gotta wait your own turn.
Up the noise, with some poison with great poise.
You can't compare it to...
Or let it scare you through...
If every thing you do is not as smoothly as we planned.
You gotta understand there is more for you….
You gotta be strong, you gotta teach your son
How to stand up straight when you want to run,
How to care and love, how to be yourself,
To be different but the same.

Odd how pop music can capture the moment. I'm sure Ben Kweller never thought these words could be applied to the canonical novitiate, but they can: waiting, contemplating, things not going as smoothly as you planned or hoped, learning to care, to love, to be yourself, to be different but the same. Really, that's the experience in a nutshell. There was even a moment (or two) when I wondered if I wanted to run, but in the end I trusted in the promise - as I continue to trust and grow.

Song # 3 -"Carlyle Lake" by Sufjan Stevens

Oh, stop thinking of tomorrow
Don't stop thinking of today
You're not getting any younger
You've got nothing to explain ...
It may take a while
It may take all day
All the implications
At the man-made lake
Oh stop thinking of tomorrow...

One of my mantras this year has been "I'm not entering the community to be a Novice, I'm a Novice to enter the community." I'm 35 years old. I have a college degree. I've had a professional career as well as lots of community organizing experience. I left all that behind because I felt a call to something more, to serve God & God's people, to do my part in building God's kindom of justice and peace. But not yet ... first comes Novitiate. Sometimes it's hard to be in between my past and future experiences, especially during this year of retreat. It's what one of our Novitiate presenters calls a liminal experience - living betwixt and between where transformation can take place. Next year will be different - more ministry and activity - but still living with the not yet. This is perhaps the hardest part for me of Novitiate.

Song # 4 - "Walken" by Wilco

The more I think about it
The more I know it's true
The more I think about it
The more I'm sure it's you
Honey I think you're just right
You're just right

And yet, with all the challenges and struggles and wonderings, the more I think about it, the more I know it's true. This is right. This is where I'm supposed to be. To grow, to learn, to be.

Song # 5 - "Because The Lord is My Shepherd" by Christopher Walker

Lord you are my shepherd
You are my friend
I want to follow you always
Just to follow My friend

Because Jesus - my teacher, my friend - is calling me, and I want to follow him with all my heart. I first remember hearing this hymn at the funeral of a very wise and wonderful woman named Margaret from my parish. It was before I recognized my own call, but it stirred something very deep within. Margaret understood what it meant to follow Jesus as her friend. In her life it led to marriage and motherhood and grandmotherhood. In my life it seems to be leading somewhere else entirely, but really the same place ... the heart.

Song # 6 "The Miracle" by Queen

The wonders of this world go on,
It's a miracle, it's a miracle, it's a miracle, it's a miracle,
The one thing we're all waiting for, is peace on earth and an end to war,
It's a miracle we need, the miracle, the miracle,
Peace on earth and end to war today,
That time will come one day you'll see when we can all be friends.

And the heart is really what it's all about. Somehow I can't help but think that someday we will realize that we are all God's children, brothers and sisters all, and there will be peace on earth and an end to war. And somehow, I think I've got a small part to play in that heart journey. And to add to the wonder of the miracle, I've found a wonderful group of groovy sisters with the same dream to journey with!

Song # 7 - "You Get What You GIve" by the New Radicals

You've got the music in you
Don't let go
You've got the music in you
One dance left
This world is gonna pull through
Don't give up
You've got a reason to live
Can't forget
We only get what we give

So as this year ends and another begins, I can honestly say yes to what follows. It will not all be easy. There will be more challenges and struggles and wonderings, but you really do get what you give. This world is gonna pull through. I've got a reason to live, and to live life fully like the wondrous gift from God it is.


Turtle Lady said...

Congratulations! The first steps on a new journey are coming to an end, you've learned a lot and have gone far. What an amazing community you're joining, the power of the individuals and what they can do together as a community is truly inspiring. They will help on your next step and take you even farther, and you will be a help to them on their journeys too.

PS: I'm off to MT tomorrow to meet my new niece or nephew who will be born on Tuesday, if not sooner!

Love ya!

mema said...

You are not between anything. All you have is the NOW, and it is everything.

Anonymous said...

Amen, Sister. I totally get what you're saying here, in a very real way. Man, if candidacy's being this wonderfully difficult, I find myself wondering if novitiate will be even harder, or if somehow I will be ahead of the curve for all the growing pains I'm going through right now?! ;-)

4ever said...

Super amen to natty... I am hoping first I make it to novitiate and second that inner transformation and meditation means single and not community.

Steve Bogner said...


Richard J. Beebe, SJ said...

Congrats on your first anniversary as a religious! Being a religious is a tremendous gift that you give to God, the Church, and the world, as well as a wonderful gift that you receive from God. Thank you for the gift of saying "Yes!" to your vocation. My prayers are with you as you begin the second year.