Bizarre Yet Beautiful ... Reprise

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a prayer poem on the blog titled "Bizarre Yet Beautiful."  Yesterday, after a very powerful (and well timed) session with my spiritual director where I reflected on the bizarre and beautiful movement of the Spirit in my life these days, I took the time to check out the Rene Magritte exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago.  The title of the traveling exhibit is Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary. As a surrealist, Magritte was deeply in touch, I think, with the bizarre yet beautiful aspects of life. Thankfully for us, he was able to capture this aspect of the human experience on canvas. I bought a small version of the painting at the right, depicted on a button (the kind you can pin to your clothing). The painting itself is called "L'homme au chapeau melon." 

I was really touched by the painting, because you see part of my ongoing discernment process has been recognizing and befriending my own limitations. This has been especially true during the past few months. As I mentioned a while back on the blog, I have been invited to discern my willingness to serve in elected leadership for my congregation (both bizarre, given my time in community, and beautiful, given my love of my community and belief in our future).  

I received my invitations to enter into this discernment process just before I spent 3 weeks at vocation director summer school, where we learned about psycho-sexual integration and behavioral assessment. While the focus was on assessing and screening potential candidates, there was also a bit of introspection and inner work involved.  As a result, I came to the discernment weekend having befriended (again) many of my own limitations and "prickly points" within the context of my discernment process. They are very real ... I, like most if not all people,  carry my life experiences, baggage, and personal challenges with me along this journey we call life. Hopefully as we become more self aware and engage fully in the work of life and relationships, our rough edges become softer and those prickly aspects of our personalities cause less and less damage to ourselves and others. Nevertheless, through much of this time of leadership discernment, my limitations have been front and center. Replace the dove in the picture with a prickly cactus and you'd get the idea!! It's hard to see the forest for the cactus, if you catch my drift.

One very real blessing of the weekend retreat I spent with the other Sisters discerning openness to serve in leadership, and the days since, has been a real experience of the promise of peace. We are all better than our worst selves, and community helps us to grow together in truth and love into our best selves. As our CSJP Constitutions say: "As we live our vows each day we trust that Christ's blessing promised to peacemakers will sustain us, knowing that God working in us will accomplish more than we can ask or imagine."

This painting by Magritte, with a dove blocking the man's face (instead of a prickly cactus!) is a reminder to me of the promise of peace.

Please join me in praying for the ten women, including myself, who decided after the discernment weekend to leave our names in the mix of nominees for elected leadership. Our General Chapter takes place September 5-16 in Seattle, with the elections taking place in a spirit of discernment and prayer towards the end of that time.  As one CSJP friend mentioned in an email, it says wonders for our community that we have such a powerful and prayerful group of women open to congregation leadership at this crucial time in our history. No matter which women will make up the final mix of leaders, leadership of our community will be in good hands, good minds, and good hearts. God is so very good ... mischievous and surprising at times, but very good.

In the words of our Chapter prayer:

Come Holy Spirit,
refresh and renew us,
draw us deeply into your love,
soften our hearts,
rouse our spirits,
open us to all that the 
Congregation Chapter may entail.
St. Joseph, dreamer
and practical one,
help us live our dreams into reality.
May the whole of creation
rejoice in God's justice
and live in God's peace.
We pray with confidence
and faith.

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