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.