When I was in London, I was often asked where I was from. I'd instantly say "America," and the questioner would often look exacerbated and say "I can tell that by the accent, but which state?". This actually left me stumped.

Sometimes I'd give the complicated answer: "Well, I was raised in Maryland but lived in Oregon for 16 years. Right now I'm living in New Jersey for 2 years for the Novitiate but most likely I'll be returning to Seattle where most of the Sisters in my Province live."

If I wasn't in the mood to confuse the person, I'd just say "Seattle, Washington" for simplicity's sake, since that's where I hope to end up. Other times I'd say "Oregon," since that was home for so long. It's also where my stuff is in storage and where I'm registered to vote.

So in a way, I suppose I'm "homeless" - since I don't know where home is! Tomorrow I'm headed back "home" (the Novitiate in NJ) from my "home visit" (a two parter to my brother's home in CA and friends in Oregon).

For the first 1/3 of my novitiate experience, I was very "homesick," home being Portland where I'd gone to college and grown into young adulthood. Then I had the chance to go back last summer to testify at a trial, and I realized that while I loved my life in Portland, I was in a different place now both interiorally and exteriorally. I reached what I guess you'd call closure. This has been my first trip back since, and it's been a good one. I feel loved and known here, but I also feel like I don't need to live here for that to happen. Being known and loved is something you can carry with you.

For the first 1/2 and a bit of my novitiate experience, I also felt "homesick" for my western groovy sisters. I'd come to know and love the CSJP community through these women in the Northwest who bring their own flavor and feeling to groovy sisterdom. Then I entered the community and went "away" to another province for my novitiate experience. It didn't help that I'd always considered myself an east coast refugee and had a collection of chips on my shoulder related to all things east coast. But something happened during my time in our 3rd (and original) province in the UK this summer. I realized that interiorally at least, I felt like I belonged to all the provinces. Each is home. Each has its pluses and minuses. Each has its own flavor. But each is a part of the whole of what it means to live as a Sister of St Joseph of Peace.

If you add up those last two paragraphs, while I may be "homeless," I think I'm also learning how to be at home in myself wherever I am. And that my friends is a pretty amazing and unexpected development.

On that note, I'm ending this existential post for a last day of frolicking with old friends in PDX.


IRISH said...

Good heavens. There is hope for you yet. I thought those chips on your shoulders were never going to fall off.
Good going!
You may become an honest to goodness nun yet!

Lisa said...

Wow! What a grace! The realization that you have so beautifully articulated is the goal of the journey toward profession. Sadly some are not able to express it fully until much later in (religious) life, but thankfully you have become aware of it and been able to capture it now. Perhaps that is (one of) the greatest lessons of novitiate, next to planting and tending the cloister garden of the religious heart.