Mind the Gap (Reprise)

This is a partial repost, with some additions and subtractions.

A long time ago in a City of Roses, there was a young woman in her early 30's with a mind full of racing thoughts and a heart full of conflicting feelings. I can sum those thoughts and feelings up thusly ... me, a nun? ME, a nun? me, a NUN?

Part of my mental maneuvering was getting around the idea that all nuns were old white haired ladies. Did people still do this sort of thing? How could that possibly work?

Then one day in my endless discernment related perusals of the internet, I stumbled across the website for Giving Voice, an organization of younger women religious. Simply knowing that such a group existed, that there were enough young nuns to form an organization, helped to calm my discernment related panic attack. It helped calmed me down enough that I could listen to the deepest desires of my heart ...

Somehow, God managed to not only get me to listen, but helped me to find my very own groovy sisters and realize that maybe this was a life, a group of people, a way of living in the world that not only makes sense, but gives me joy.

But the generation gap is a reality. Anyone who has ridden the London Underground has read the signs and heard the announcements to "Mind the Gap." The gap in question being the one between the train and the platform. Likewise, I think it's important to remember that there is a generation gap in religious life. Not to obsess about it, but also not to ignore it. It is there, it has implications, and we need to be mindful of what all that means.

Last January I was able to go to my first Giving Voice gathering. This gathering was specifically for "Young Nuns" - those in their 20's & 30's. They were all new to me people, but they made me feel right at home and we had a great time. I don't spend a lot of time with people my age, and it was especially cool to spend time with other younger religious.

In addition to our times for prayer, play, and more play, we also had some deep conversations about our lives and this larger religious life experience. It helped to have other voices expressing similar thoughts. I left feeling much stronger and part of something bigger. Religious life may be different, it may be smaller, but it will continue. These women are passionate about their communities, passionate about their ministries, and passionate about religious life. God is in the mix, and all shall be well.

It's a year later. I find myself living with an amazingly fun and prayerful group of senior Sisters at west coast groovy sister hq. I don't find myself minding the gap so much, since I feel so at home and loved and part of the "family." I'm surprised at how much the age gap isn't a factor. But it is a reality, it's still there. I'm reminded of it when dinner conversation gets stuck on topics or events that happened well before I was even a glimmer in my parents' eye. Or when I say something that seems obvious to me but then I realize is more a product of my generation than theirs. Again, the gap is not something to obsess about, but it is part of the reality of religious life. There are a few of us younger Sisters in our community - which is something to rejoice about - but we are definitely in a minority.

And so, while I relish and enjoy my life here with my groovy senior Sisters, I am also looking forward to this weekend when I return to the annual "Young Nuns" gathering. I'll get to reconnect with friends I met last year, meet some new ones, and share what it's like to be a younger person in religious life with people who just get it.

In terms of the blog, what this means is I'm not going to be posting until Monday - except for my Margaret Anna Friday post which will automatically pop up tomorrow morning.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

1 comment:

Pachyderm said...

Please post about this, Sr Susan! We younger ones are definitely in the minority, and the religious life in NZ is itself tiny - so the younger religious segment is correspondingly tinier! There is only one other person in my Order under 35 (I think)... I'm 32 and have been professed 4 years.

Robyn TSSF