Thursday, October 16, 2008

Oliver, Otis and Other Things

So you may have seen the pictures of Oliver and Otis yesterday and much has happened since then but before I move forward, I think I have to go backwards. On Monday with the Intercommunity Novitate folks, we went to San Juan Capistrano to do something more social as a group. It was a good, hot and sunny day to spend outdoors. We arrived there about 9AM and went to some touristy places before having to gather at 10. At 10, we met up with our two tour gudies and they explained the history of the mission and what it's function was. The tour was about 2 hours and afterward we stayed around and ate the lunches that we brought together.

Anyone that knows me well knows that I love butterflies and they have been a great symbol for me since entering two years ago when Gert Maurer gave me a monarch caterpillar as a gift. I had Ernie for about 3-4 weeks as he went through the transformation process of becoming a butterfly. At San Juan Capistrano, I was kind of distracted because there were so many Monarchs flying around and craving my attention as they landed on different flower and flew around my head. There was a flowering milkweed plant that was low to the ground inside the mission grounds near the bells and there had to be about 15 or so caterpillars on this plant. By the end of the day, I decided that I needed a souvenior and this is one that could pray with and would speak to me deeply with all of the symbolism. So that's the story of how I got Oliver and Otis. Usually you can't tell the sex of a caterpillar, you have to wait until it becomes a butterfly so their names may have to change by the end of this process.

On Monday evening, I was afraid for them because the milkweed that they were on was wilting and they couldn't eat it any longer. At dinner with all of the motherhouse sisters, I was asking many of them if they knew where I could find milkweed because from the internet I knew that milkweed in California didn't look like the milkweed that I'd grown used to seeing in Michigan. Tuesday on our lunch break, I decided to go to 2 parks that I'd found in the area from the internet and thought that they might have milkweed. I wandered through the parks for about an hour with no luck. I had twenty minutes until I had to be back to the motherhouse and it was a 16 minute drive back. I was supposed to turn right but I knew that God was telling me to turn left. I did and there on the right was a park and in the back of the parking lot was a building that said "Parks Office". I went inside and there were two park rangers. The one took me to the state park where he had his office and was going to give me seeds but when he found out that the need was sooner, he ripped 3 plants out of the ground and sent me on my way. It wasn't the kind of plant that I would have been looking for so I'm sure glad that God directed me to their expertise.

In the afternoon yesterday Oliver and Otis started to hang from the milkweed plant and I realized that they were going to start to form their chrysalis even sooner than I had expected. Otis you'll see in the pictures is already in the comfort of his chrysalis and Oliver is still trying to figure out how this process goes. I'm kind of worried about him because he hasn't moved in quite a while and is slower about this process than Otis was. I hope he's okay. I'll keep you updated on their progress. They still have 9-14 days to become butterflies though.

Onto other news. Last week Monday, we had Jane DiLisle from Orange with us at our ICN meeting. This was the first part of our program on the Enneagram. She introduced us to all the personality types so that we could try and decided what our motivations are and what the motivation of others is. I think the whole day was full of great material because we were able to see how and why we react to certain things the way we do and how others react as well. I think it helps build community and get along with people too because you can embrace each others strengths and weaknesses. Next Monday, Jane will be with us again for Part 2 and she'll be talking about how the different personality types relate to different prayer styles. I'm looking forward to that. For those of you that are familiar with the Enneagram... any idea what number I am? Ann and I have figured it out and I'm still feeling it out to see if it's a fit.

For the past two days, Pat Byrne from Baden, PA has been with us to talk about the Primitive documents. I wasn't so much of a history buff in school so I wasn't sure what to expect for this class. I think it definitely helps to have the background that Pat has because it gives an appreciation of the strruggle and joy that was involved in making this place available for me as a home. We spent time with the Reglements and the Eucharistic Letter as well as the first Constitution written by Fr. Medaille. I won't get into these classes too much or any in the future because I know that each of our home novice directors are supposed to email our communities about the content of our classes here. I will share something that struck me the most. It happened at the end while we were talking about the Eucharistic letter. We were learning about how the letter states that our whole congregation and it's design is based on the Eucharist itself. I hadn't ever really thought about this before but it has given me a greater understanding and appreciatation for the scarament. Our congregation wasn't recognized as a civil body in the beginning because we weren't like any religious order that already existed. We weren't monastic and we didn't have the monastery walls. We weren't recognized and we had no example to build ourselves off of. We had to completely give up any preconceived idea of religious life so that God could make of us whatever God intended. While Jesus was on Earth no one could understand or see that he was divine. He lived a hiddenness because no one had encountered anyone like Jesus, both human and divine. We began in that hiddenness as well. No religious order was able to be on the streets and work as we did during that time and so we lived out our call in the hiddenness that Jesus experienced as well. It seems today that we are living the same way. I've experienced this quite a bit. People wonder why I'm entering a religious order when they don't see outward signs like they're used to. Society is used to sisters being in habits, teaching in schools and being in hospitals. Then they see me in jeans or shorts and a tshirt, taking two years away from work to "play" in California, being interested in technolgy and sports and expect me to be completely shut off from society. There is still that hiddenness today and as the sisters in 1650 were called to redefined religious life, I think that is the challenge that we face again today.

We're finishing out the week with ministry today and prayer day tomorrow. My brother is coming out to California this week for a softball tournament so I'm hoping that I have some time to go visit. If I'm lucky, maybe I'll get some news as to the names that they're thinking about for my nephew who will appear in February.

Evening edition:
RIP Oliver... Oliver was buried at 8:26 this evening without fully realizing his beauty on this Earth. What a sad, sad way to end the evening!


barbk said...

Sorry to hear about Oliver's passing.....I will pray that Otis blooms large and beautiful for both of them...barbk

Jeanne Gamache, csj said...

What a great post, my friend. I enjoyed every part of it. The trip to San Juan Capistrano was great to experience via your photos! Thanks! It was my first visit!! And the review and some new insights about our documents was good, too! It will give me some mental/soul nourishment!
And now...Oliver did not live out his whole cycle but he did contribute to joy and life during the time he existed. So, there's a lesson here. And we will have Otis to look forward to soon. I just marvel at this miracle of nature. Have you ever been to Point Peeley in Ontario when the Monarch's are resting during their migration?
Thanks for your wonderful blog. It gives me life and enjoyment.
Love you, my friend!

Anonymous said...

Jenn, your posts are wonderful! I have to admit that I check everyday to see if you have posted anything new. Thanks for sharing your Novitiate with us layfolk. LOL. Blessings and joy.
Cathy Runski

Novitiate Community said...

Thanks so much for all your postings. It's not at all like being there, but it keeps me in touch with all of the wonderful parts of the novitiate. I'm sure there are (or will be) harder parts that aren't as readily shared on-line. Know you are prayed for in all of it.

bmeagher said...

You have been in my thoughts Jenn, so I'm sending a brief message - great story about Otis & Oliver. Yes, transformation is a difficult process and that's what we try to encourage at our Center. Happy Saints and Sinners celebration out in sunny CA. Blessings.

Sister_Katy said...

Hi Jenn--

Happy Novitiate! Not sure if you remember me...we were in Boston together for Giving Voice and ate at the restaurant where they make funny hats and wrap people with paper...
Anywho...I'm trying to get the word out about the 2 upcoming Giving Voice events: January (for nuns 20-30s) and June (any under 50 like Boston). Please pass the word on to the other novices too! I hope you can come to one or both. More info is posted on the GV website. Stay out of novice trouble! :) Peace, Katy, SSSF