Welcome to the Hearth

Welcome to the Hearth

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sister and sisters

Robbie and I 1966, I was 19, she was 16. We were both much thinner than we are now, but not as wise....

For the last 18 or so years I have been sharing my home with women in transition. It use to be that nuns lived together exclusively with other nuns. It was unheard of 40 years ago when I entered the community to live with those who were not vowed religious and usually those from one's own community. Things are quite different today. After spending a number of years working on the streets of Portland with homeless people and later working with many women who came through our Center, I began to be concerned with women, especially those who were in transition. One thing led to another and I have been sharing my home with various women who Spirit has sent that need a safe place to live while they figure out what comes next in their lives. It is always interesting when each woman moves in. I always have to adjust things to accommodate their needs. Now, I find my own kid sister has become the newest woman to move in. We are four years apart in age, and though, in the past, many of our interest have been very different, of late we are discovering more and more things we share in common. So, it will be interesting to see how it goes.

One way we still differ is the T.V. It is hard for me to stay interested in much of what is served up on the television these days. I mainly watch it to catch up on the news in the morning or evening while I do my daily workout. If I wasn't in a more remote area, I'd probably skip the T.V. altogether. But, for my sister, there are many reality shows she watches "religiously."

The reason I share my home like this is that I value the relational way we humans are put together and extend myself, in the name of my community, to build and nurture the relationship of sisterhood.
We nuns call one another by our names, but it used to be that "Sister" was a way we addressed one another. Others also used that term when addressing us. I think it got kind of unconscious. We don't really think about what that meant any more, and now, among us members of the religious community, we rarely use it to address one another, preferring the given name. Sometimes, it has taken living with women who are not nuns to make me a better nun and sister. I'm not sure I can explain that exactly. I don't mean it like, a better nun becomes more "churchy," more than it means, by extending myself and my home to one who is not a nun, makes me have to get to the root of what my and the purpose of religious communities are really for in the first place.

We create for ourselves a sanctuary to nurture and enliven our spirituality and energize us for our mission. At its core, our life as humans is sacred. We nuns have internalized and externalized it as a living model of relationship that empowers, liberates, invites continual growth, mutual support and accountability for the good of the whole. Our lifestyle expresses relationship as sacred in a way that is inclusive and focuses on community as the expression of one of the sacred models humankind needs for it journey to wholeness. The whole universe from the micro to the macro dances as a Oneness in relationship to The Sacred dimension. I think our life in community is less, in the end, about the Catholic part and much more about being a person committed to living out the deeper sacred values inherent in life in this awesome Universe. How will we two sisters in blood get along as sisters in spirit too? More will be revealed.


Searching for My Willoughby said...

That picture brings back some memories as I was entering 1st gr. in 1966. It wasn't long afterwards that most of the nuns in our school quit wearing their habit. Blessings to you and your sister as you explore a new path as siblings.

miss*R said...

I never understood why Nuns were called sister... but since being in contact with you I have started to realize that we are sisters of soul... sisters on our journey.. you help me so much and I hope that I help you in some way too..

I only have one sibling, a sister and she drives me nuts... I know well, that to help her is one of my things to do in this life..not sure where to begin with that but like you say.. more will be revealed

enjoy your time with your sister... she is really lucky to have a wise soul like you to help her along her path... and I am sure she will help you in some way too.. XOXO

ladybug said...

I'm sure that you will find your way with your sister...you have such a beautiful gift of listening as well as hearing what other's need to say or hear themselves.

As for television, I've never been happier than I am now that I don't have TV service in my house. It's like having junk food around. There might be some nutritional value in part of it, but for the most part it will put you in a 'mind' coma and slowly eat away at your health.

Of course it doesn't have to be this way..and there are some wonderful programs that are being and have been created...but because I know that I will watch even things I don't like if a television set is on...I tend to have the things I want to watch on DVD and make a conscious choice on when I want to watch them.

When I think of 'reality' tv I shutter...frankly I think reality tv should be opening up the window curtains and looking outside ;)

Penny said...

Love what Ladybug said about TV. We did not have it for many years and then my dear husband decided he had to have it. I dislike it very much -- have no patience with the noise and stridance and absolutely hate programs that pit people against each other, grading and judging - UGH!!

Kikipotamus said...

I found myself addressing you as Sister the other day and it was completely spontaneous. It took me by surprise because I don't usually use such titles, but realized it had sprung straight from a feeling of sisterhood with you.

I echo Searching in her blessings to you and your sister as you enter this new stage of your journey as sisters and house mates.

This is not one of my strong areas...sharing living space with other humans.

Carla said...

Oh how I love this photo and your post! I have never been able to picture you wearing a habit, now I have the image. You still look like you! What a treat to see you and your sis as teens. Glimpses of ourselves and others throughout the years is like opening a gift.