Discerning Home

I'm home at St. Mary-on-the-Lake, our regional center on the shores of Lake Washington near Seattle, during my school break between J-Term and the start of the spring semester. This is of course an exciting time to be here in Seattle. I decided against crossing the lake to join 700,000 other people downtown for the Seahawks parade (note: the actual population of the City of Seattle is 634,535 so I think that was a wise life choice on my/our part!). But never fear, we are having a celebration here this evening hosted by one of our Sisters. Should be fun, and I even found some green and blue to wear to get into the spirit!

From the first moment that I drove on to the grounds of St. Mary-on-the-Lake for a vocation retreat in 2004 (almost 10 years ago), I have felt a sense of peace here. I lived here for the first year of temporary profession, and now as I am living in Chicago for school this is my home base where I come back on school breaks. It is interesting to me how each time, it feels more and more like home. And not just groovy sister hq, but Seattle is also becoming home, bit by bit.

My original home for 18 years was Bowie, Maryland. Then I switched coasts and lived in Portland, Oregon for the better part of 16 years. When I first started discerning my call to religious life, I was very reluctant to leave Portland which had become my adopted home. In fact, this was a major part of my discernment. I clearly remember praying on one visit north, sitting on a park bench looking at the Seattle skyline and wondering if this would ever feel like home. In the mix of all that mixed up discernment, I looked seriously at a different religious community for longer than I should have because they were centered in Oregon.

In the end, I knew my heart was a CSJP heart and I took the plunge. Of course, before I knew it I was living in New Jersey for the Novitiate, then in England for a few months and back to New Jersey. I lived and ministered in Seattle during temporary profession and the first year of final profession. It took me a while to put down roots, to make connections outside community with people within a decade or so of my own age. I was just starting to do this when I was asked to consider graduate studies. This of course pulled me to my present location, Chicago, which is a lovely (if cold) place to be where I have family and a great network of friends within 10-15 years of my own age. It's good, I like what I'm doing. But I miss home. And interestingly, while I still love Portland and enjoy visiting and connecting with friends there, that home has shifted 160 miles north to Seattle.

God has a funny sense of humor because, truth be told, in all the years I was in Portland I never really liked Seattle. My first few trips here had horrid (if funny) moments that made me dislike the place. But then, I found my CSJP community, and the rest, as they say, is history ...or history in the making.

Once school is finished next May (2015), I'm hoping to return home to Seattle. Home with my CSJP Sisters. Home with the mountains and the sound and the lake. Home with the crazy traffic and even rainier weather than Portland. And all within three hours drive of my other home, my adopted home of Portland which will always be dear to my heart.

But for now, I am blessed to be able to spend a few days with my CSJP Sisters at groovy sister hq. To soak in the natural beauty ... and LACK OF SNOW! To celebrate the Seahwaks, to celebrate the City, and just to generally enjoy life and the (temporary) lack of homework.

I have a room with a view of the lake (and the roof) this visit!

St. Mary-on-the Lake is nestled in the woods

My favorite spot to pray ... on the dock

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