Thursday, January 29, 2009

Resurrection and New Life

Dessert in our backyard
The 10-12 foot pointsettia-ish plant in the back

So as I write this, my sister-in-law, Jen, is in the hospital waiting impatiently for the baby to come. Today is 4 weeks until the actual due date but there's been some heart rate and blood pressure questions so they thought it best to help the process along. I've been eagerly awaiting each call since noon yesterday and just keep praying that everything will be okay. So I guess it's safe to say that my mind (and I wish my body) is at home with the fam and so it's a little hard to focus on what's happening or what has happened here... we'll see what I can come up with.

Last week Marie Schwan from our very own community was here with us to share about Ignatian Spirituality. I knew before that our CSJ spirituality has a base in Ignatian spirituality but before this last week I didn't have a class that was specifically about Ignatius to thoroughly understand it and know what prayer experiences to label as Ignatian. It's a strange thing sometimes when these speakers come to us and you can just feel like they're speaking from your own heart and you feel everything just fall into place and it finds a home in you. We spend some time talking about the life of Ignatius and the founding of the Jesuits and then spent a good deal of time with the Spiritual Exercises and the process of that. The idea of the 30 day retreat seems a bit intimidating right now but who knows what will happen. I'm sure it would be a great experience but at this point I would have a hard time being in that space for that long.
This is one of my favorite quotes from the classes that comes from the Principle and Foundation: “All other things on the face of the earth are created for human beings in order to help them pursue the end for which they are created. It follows from this that one must use other created things, in so far as they help towards one's end, and free oneself from them, in so far as they are obstacles to one's end.” There's a lot in this quote and I think that's why it stuck with me... because there's a lot to unpack. The Spiritual Exercises just seem to be a natural process that happens in life whether you're educated in it or not: an experience, an awareness, a need for change/transformation, a realization of the need for God’s presence and voice in it, an understanding of how Jesus and the people he encountered experienced the same, and coming to greater union with God and living more deeply in that reality. I have a feeling that if anyone is living life in a contemplative/reflective way, then this process would automatically happen. Maybe it's just a nature course in my life because I already have the charism, etc. in me but I wonder about non-CSJs.

Friday's prayer day was really, really good for me. I decided to take the car and drive to an Orange County park in the mountains but when I woke up that morning it was raining. (A VERY rare occurence.) I left about 11 and it was still raining but I went anyway. I drove toward the mountains that we see out the window at the end of the hall. It was gorgeous! I decided to keep driving up the mountain but ended up on a road that only led to the landfill... opps. It stopped raining at about one and I decided not to pay the money to get into the park when I couldn't enjoy it that much while it was raining or directly after. I ended up driving through the mountain areas that were burned out from the recent fires. It was amazing to see the newly green green grass popping up from the rain and then get into the charred trees with rain dripping off. Every now and then there would be a patch of green grass next to a tree like that and it just gave me a new and different example of resurrection. I drove through these incredibly winding roads feeling very small with the mountains surrounding the shoulder-less road, through the burned out areas and found a small park on the side of the road. I parked there, ate my lunch and just spent time reading and writing with God for a few hours. When it was about time to head back, I found this road called "Scenic Ridge". It led into a subdivision but it was amazing; there were a few empty lots and you could see the amazing view below. I'm sure I could have seen a lot farther without the clouds but none-the-less, it was a beautiful view. This weekend we're planning a trip to the mountains. It's funny how they have to DRIVE to the snow around here. So that's the plan and I'm hoping for a great view and some good pictures. I'll let you know how it goes.

This week we had our first Order of the House meeting. We have State of the Heart every Sunday but this semester they've added the Order of the House as a new experience. Not sure how often this will take place but it was a good experience. I have to admit that I wasn't so sure about it when it was being explained. It turned out to be a very life-giving experience for us. I think it's just another way of increasing awareness of our actions as a whole and how they effect others and our mission together. We were open, honest and respectful and I think that attitude in all of us makes interactions and relationships stronger. I think it's a great process for religious but really there needs to be mutual openness for it to work. I'm learning that about many things.

So that's what's going on these days. It was quite a surprise for me to hear about Joan's passing and that's been deeply in my heart and my process lately. Experiences like this definitely give a new perspective on life and the future. Rest in peace Joan... and Emily.

Please keep Jen, Jeff and the "nephew in waiting"(to be born) on your prayer list. Peace! Namaste!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Journeys - Christmas and otherwise...

Well Happy New Year all! I hope that all of your Christmas and holiday celebrating was filled with much love and joy! Now that I'm back to the daily novitiate schedule in California, I'm thinking that my Christmas journey durign the break felt like an outward journey or all the inward journeying that novitiate is supposed to be about. Maybe it's even the journey that Mary and Joseph would have experienced, all the traveling around and business of not being settled.

Before my last post, I was thinking about this blog and really wondering where to go with it, I didn't know who was reading it and how many. Since I've been back to the center at Nazareth. Holy Moses! I realize I can't stop now! It was great to hear in person how many people are following me around and really accompanying me on this journey. I know that there are people at the Nazareth center that print off these writing for all of the sisters, to you I've very grateful that you can be the legs and hands that allows non-computer sisters to read this! And to all the readers, thank you for your support through thoughts, prayers, and just plain reading! I had to laugh when I went to the computers on 4th floor and when the screen awakened, I saw an icon with "CSJNamaste" on it that would lead a sister right to my blog. Just a little heart warming moment! I am grateful to all of you!

Christmas felt like an amazing and long road trip around the country of places that I call home. The break was three weeks long but it seemed that the energy level that I needed for the break was about 6 months worth. I got to see a ton of sisters, some in groups, some individually and it just amazed me how available people were for the limited amount of time I had. I was able to share more of my internal processes with a lot of people that haven't been able to be in contact with me and it was just good to share the stories of what insights both life and God gift you with when you have the priviledge of having time away which this program in California does. God is truly alive in prayer, people (whether I know them or whether I just catch a glimpse of them on the sidewalk), in community, in family (though I'm not able to be close to them not, and most of all in myself. It's hard sometimes to know all the changes that are happening in myself and not have words to express that. It's only through some stories that I'm shared with people that can express the difference/ the changes in me. God is just so big right now and I never want that to leave. I suppose that's one thing that I hope to settle in this semester: I want the largeness of God to fill me, my perspectives and my heart, that I will forever be changed. I think it's possible. I hope that the settling leads me to a place that is more unitive than selfish and more loving than ever ignorant or blinded again. I also think that these changes inside which have a hard time being outwardly expressed makes it hard for people to really realize that a change has happened within myself. The people that I'm closest to, I'm not really sure that they know me anymore. I have to be okay with that, knowing that God's work with me isn't completed yet and hope that everyone can just walk with me where I'm at, loving me through it, and appreciating the positive aspects of this journey with me. At this point, I don't even know what to expect from myself these days, (I can't expect anyone else to). I'm on God's potter's wheel and just waiting patiently for an inkling of where to go or what to do next because I know only God has that knowledge.

When I got back to the Chicago house, my novitiate house, I decided that whatever was in that room, I really didn't need (except winter clothes) because I've been living without it since August. So I went through everything: books, cds, clothes, bedding, shoes, etc. It was good just to reorganize things, make my room my own and pack up boxes. I'm hoping to do more of that when I get back in May but it felt good just to clean out. I also had to do that even before I unpacked my suitcase as there wasn't a space of any of its contents! Charlene and I had some bonding time in Chicago the first week though since Kathy had meeting all week and Tess was staying at the motherhouse. Charlene and I didn't have much time to be together when I moved in because he job has her traveling a lot. We had time to decorate and cook together and just be together and get to know each other a bit more. For me, it was just a good quiet re-entering into the chaotic that Christmas time can usually be about. Oh by the way, Charlene just had an article about vocation in the America magazine. I think it's still the latest issue, if not, it's the one just previous. Check it out, her name's on the front (article inside :) Charlene Diorka! We were all proud of her!

Time at home home (Detroit/Sterling Heights)was great. I spent a good deal of that week with my family. I got to see my parents first of all and was greeted with a big ol' hug from mom (and quite few tears) and next one from dad. They even had a welcome home sign on the door with Santa on it for me. They're just too cute! Christmas Eve was time for church and Chinese food. It's a tradition with us. Then onto my cousin's house Christmas day and then to my brother's house to open immediate family presents. It was the first time that I got to see Jen pregant and the baby's room which was almost finished, minus furniture. Jeff was all proud showing me the clothes they already have for the baby including a little outfit that says "Police Academy" on it since his dad is a policeman and numerous Michigan State clothes since both parents went there. I think the most emotional part of the break was when we were there at my brother's house and the last gift of the evening was from "Aunt Jenn" (which I had a hard time writing for the first time) to "Little Graus Man". It was a book called "One the Day You were Born". Jen opened it and say that there was a letter inside. She started to read it and couldn't get through the first sentence. Jeff refused, my mom didn't think she could do it so only my dad was left. He read the note that I wrote to the baby which apologized for the fact that I can't welcome him into the world at the end of February but I had this book which I want to be a tradition between the two of us that I'll read it to him on his birthday every year until he can read it to himself. I told him that this year, I needed a fill in and I hoped that it would be grandma. Toward the end of the letter I said, "I promise to read a copy of this book the day that I get the phone call that you've arrived. I'll be with you in Spirit and hold you in my heart until I can hold you in my arms in May." All during this, my dad is reading while the song "Silent Night" is playing and all of us are in tears but it was a good family moment and I hope they understand how much I wish I could be there. Jen is on bed rest until the baby is born, I know it's all going to be okay but I'm just keeping her and close in my heart these last maybe 6 weeks.

My time in Michigan was short but I did spend time with Marie B, Jeanne and Joyce De. It was so good to be with them, Jeanne especially. We have a different mode of share now because we're both away from home and it feels good just to share with someone that's experiencing some of the same things.

There was lots of traveling, lots of energy needed and expended and even more love the was really felt in a short amount of time! I think that boost gives me a good jump start to this next semester.

We got back a week ago on the 3rd and on the 4th, Millie was out her to Orange with Lynn and JoAnn that live out here in California. I hadn't ever met them before but I was glad that I got to see Millie and that her being out her helped me to meet our own. Bernie took them for a tour and then Ann and I joined them for brunch. Picture below.

This week we had Barbara Baer from Wichita with us. She shared a very condensed version of what she would do in Bearers of the Tradition. It just amazes me all the year that she has crammed in her mind but the knowledge and all the stories with our CSSJ history was very inspiring and there are many ties that I found of how we're repeating some history with the journey that our new community is taking.

Anyway, this is getting excruciatingly long. I'll end here and just let you enjoy the pictures of my trek from Orange to Chicago to Nazareth to Chicago to Detroit/Sterling Heights to Nazareth to Chicago and back to Orange again :) Enjoy!