In Between the Not Anymore and the Not Yet

I shared my own reflections in living community in the 21st Century both at the Giving Voice Conference and in the Newsletter. Over the next few days I'm going to excerpt my relfections here:

When we gathered on Thursday evening at Alverno College, Luisa Saffiotti shared a beautiful photograph of a butterfly going through three stages of transformation at the same time. Hanging onto the branch by a thin thread, the transformation is almost complete. The butterfly is coming out, but has not yet opened its wings to fly. The larva, the cocoon, are still there. The picture shows both the beauty and the messiness of the dying, the transformation and the birthing. “What does it mean when all three are occurring at the same time,” Luisa asked us. “What is it like to be with the not anymore and the not yet

I don’t know about anyone else gathered in the conference center that night, but I was floored. Luisa had put words and image to the questions and movements of my own heart as I reflected on my deepest longings for living community in the 21st Century. I find myself in my present day reality as a temporary professed Sister of St. Joseph of Peace, grateful for my life in community as it is now. But I also know that it will not stay this way. Just as life in community today is not what it was for our Sisters in decades past, our future in religious life will be different as well. The only thing is, we really have no idea what it will become.

I have deep longings for the “not yet” of community. There are a few women in my community who are within ten to 15 years of me on either side. And it seems others are coming, both to my Congregation and to yours. Gathering with other younger religious at Giving Voice gives me even more confidence that religious life has a future—even if we don’t know what it looks like.

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