I spent the bulk of this thunderstormy Chicago day cleaning and reorganizing my room.  One of my neighbors moved away recently and I appropriated a large Ikea bookcase she left behind which fits PERFECTLY and helps to make my little space here in the CTU dorm look a bit more organized (and a bit less junky).

I also decided to finally do something with the blank wall above my bed.  There's a rather annoying, if necessary, pipe/cord down the middle that is attached to the smoke detector.  That's part of why I never put anything up.  Plus while I kept much of my pre-convent life artwork (to better decorate the community houses where I usually live!), I left it all in storage in Seattle.

In resourceful grad school style, I decided to make a collage of some 8X10 prints of some of my favorite photos, taken by yours truly on retreat and journeys in recent years.

I'm pretty happy with the effect, even with the pipe/cord thing breaking up the 2nd and 3rd columns!  For one thing the greens, blues and browns match the colors of my bed spread and assorted dorm furniture. More importantly, however, I realized that the photos I chose speak to my spirituality, my vocation, and my relationship with God, creation, and self.

On the top left you have a photo taken through the chapel window at our CSJP retreat house on the Jersey Shore.  The standing cross from the chapel is almost lined up with the cross in the window pane with the Atlantic in the background. This picture always reminds me, as our CSJP Constitutions say, that Christ is our peace, the source of our power.

The next photo on the top row is from another ocean.  It took this last year on retreat on the Oregon Coast.  This photo speaks to me of the joy, laughter, and playfulness of our Creator God.

The last photo on that row, and the first on the next row, I believe are photos I took of stones near the koi pond at our Jersey Shore retreat house.  I love the perspective of the photos, as if hope and dreaming are hanging on despite their better judgement and gravity!  Which, in my experience, is not too far from reality.  To dream that we can help make the world a better place and to hope despite all the evidence to the contrary is part of the life of faith.  It is part of the human experience.  And again, in my experience, it is really only possible in a sustained manner in the context of community.

Which leads to the next photo of the street signs.  No, these are not photoshopped!  Last spring I was giving a presentation in Central Washington and took a chance to explore around Wenatchee where our CSJP Sisters ministered for many years in health care and education.  I drove by the school that we started which is still home to today's generation of students and teachers.  I got out to take a better look, and realized that I had parked my car across the street at the corner of Susan Street and St. Joseph Place!  This picture again reminds me of God's playfulness and the miracle that I someway found my way through all the noise to this life as a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace.

The last photo is from this past summer.  My college friend Kathy and I spent an afternoon walking in Muir Woods.  I realized many years ago that forests and trees are very important to me spiritually.  They are where I am most calm, at peace, centered.  Redwoods, cedars, and other trees found on the west coast tend to be rather large.  They also tend to be kind of old, and yet still they stand, having witnessed generation after generation of humans, still reaching up and up and up.  In this collage, I love how the trees of Muir Woods are reaching up towards my dreams. And given that this collage is above my bed, my own dreams will reach up through the trees!

All in all, I'm quite pleased with the finished product.  It feels like one year after I arrived here, this space is now closer to complete.  It is certainly not home--my recent visit to west coast groovy sister hq regrounded me in how important my csjp home is to me--but it is certainly a hospitable and cozy space in which to continue my studies in the coming school year!


Anonymous said...


What are you studying and how do you imagine your future ministry? I think I've missed the posts in which you discussed this.

Anonymous said...

I love the street signs. That is too cool! And definitely agree it was a sign of God's playfulness!

Lucille in CT

Susan Rose Francois, CSJP said...


Sorry it took me so long to reply. Blogger has been hiding my comments from me in the midst of spam.

Susan Rose Francois, CSJP said...

Anonymous: I am earning a Masters of Arts in Theology with an emphasis in Social Ethics and Spirituality.

I'm open to possibilities and the call of my community on ministry, but I hope this education will better ground my work for peace through justice.