On the corner of Riggs and Metzerott Roads

In 1986, I was a fresh faced and idealistic high school student embarking on a new adventure.  Each day I would travel, thanks to two very generous parents who took turns chauffering me 45 minutes each way my first two years, from my house in Bowie, Maryland to the corner of Riggs & Metzerott Road in Adelphi, Maryland. This was a significant trek, but I felt at the time and still today that it was very much worth it.  For one thing, I had an academic scholarship that I won by writing a timed essay about my grandfather, an amazing man of peace and deep love.  For another, I was won over by the can-do-attitude and subtle feminist spirit of the place.  It was also much more diverse than my elementary school.  Whereas my friend K was the only African-American student at St. Pius X, Regina was about evenly spit racially.  It seemed like a place where my 13 year old self could grow and learn how to make a difference in the world.

For the next three years Regina was indeed my base of operations.  I got a great education and some real-life experience being a peacemaker.  I was still a wee bit socially awkward, but always enjoyed the company of my "Reggie" classmates.  It was also at Regina that I met a very groovy sister who inspired me.  Her name was (and is) Sister Janet.  Sister Janet is a Religious of Jesus and Mary, the order that sponsored the school.  She was a graduate herself from the very first class!  Most of all, she was very down to earth and connected with the students as young adult women worthy of respect and engagement in her role as principal.  I will never forget when she dressed up as a punk rocker one year for Halloween!

I was inspired, but this was not the catalyst moment for my vocation story.  You see, I was also a full of questions, doubts and wonderings about the institutional church.  As I've written on the blog before, my path to religious life was circuitous and included a 10-year vacation from the Catholic Church during my late teens and twenties.  So even though Sister Janet was a living example of one very groovy flavor of Sister, I wasn't quite ready to explore that step at that point. But I always remembered her.  I even have a picture taken of me with her at my high school graduation--which was from an all-boys school since Regina closed in 1989. That is another story I told on the blog long ago!

Flash forward to 2012, which by my calculations is a frightening 26 years later!.  A lot has happened during that time. Moving west. College.  Life as a glorified bureaucrat.  Returning to the Church.  Losing my mom. Growing into my identity as a peace and justice/church geek.  And then, meeting the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace and finding my call!

In more recent years, I've also gotten very involved with a group of younger women religious called Giving Voice.  This is yet another thing that I've written about on the blog many times, as this group of peers across congregations is very important to my past, present and future journey in religious life.  Last year, I was invited to join the core team of Giving Voice, which leads to the title of this blog post, the corner of Riggs and Metzerott Roads.

Because you see, today I was visiting one of my friends from Giving Voice, who lives just down the street from my alma mater.  She's been a long-time member of the core team, and while I am in town visiting my Dad for Holy Week/Easter, we thought we'd go to the bank to see if I could get myself listed as an authorized signer on our organization's very modest bank account.  Which we did today.  At a bank on the corner of Riggs and Metzerott Roads, not 500 feet from where this story began at Regina High School, (now a school for children with disabilities).

I found myself thinking ... what would my 1986 self think about this?  Was there an inkling of religious life there way back wen, lurking behind all the questions? What would she have thought about the amazing conversation I had with my friend today about religious life? No doubt she may have thought that I'd been transported into some sort of alternate reality.  But at the same time, I think there were seeds planted back then that just took time to grow.

All in all it was a bit of a full-circle moment today, spending time at a bank in the shopping center where I'd spent so many after school afternoons back in the day.

To add another full-circle twist, tonight I went to mass at the parish where my young nun friend works as the faith formation director.  Guess who else goes to the parish, and was sitting next to me in the pew at the beautiful intercultural and tri-lingual (English, French & Spanish) Holy Thursday liturgy tonight?

Yep ... you guessed it ... Sister Janet.  Still groovy as ever. I hope to see her again tomorrow night for Good Friday services.

Blessings of Holy Week to you all!

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