Week 3 has been a pretty beautiful time. In Week 2, after agonizing about whether I could commit the time to these writings and to my group discussions as I moved to a new city and started a new job, I felt the mutual support of Royal Palm for one another as we all decided to do what we could do of the writing, and support each other in the present moment on our calls.
It has felt both good and uncomfortable to be vulnerable and hear vulnerability in my learning group and in the group and structure as a whole; I feel that we are able to share fears and stuck places as well as hopes and strengths. It has been a pretty long time since I have been in a work-group like this…at least two years. It is also enlightening to be part of a whole group of “leader-facilitators” – the people in my group are really good at bringing out the voices and bringing out the talents of the whole, and asking questions. At one point I felt that I was taking up a little too much space and I need to step back and listen, and I felt that in the context of the group, although that is a heart-wiggly place to be in, that it was forgiven and understood.
The group also asked me to sing, which was a very moving experience that led me to reflect, how can I invite out the songs in others again? In Malta, and in my first 6 months in New Mexico, I spent a lot of time and energy surviving and adapting, and my role was one of observing, listening and learning, so I couldn’t ask a lot of questions and invite songs out of the people I was with. It was difficult to be and feel “myself” for the last couple of years of formation. This is not a bad thing; it was in fact a very good learning experience to need to be quiet and cautious with my bodily gestures and words for so long, but there is something really enlivening about being reminded by my group of what it is like to speak through fear, and to invite another person out into the open where it is ok to make mistakes.
I feel that maybe in this group setting, I am beginning a new cycle of letting go; letting go of my prior ideas, which were the rocket booster that got me here, in order to find an orbit that holds at the center my *deepest* values. What is Jesuit women’s vocations promotion actually about? My group laughed and joked about how the Jesuit vocations promoters are always these young, handsome men who give an air of “Damn, it feels good to be a Jesuit…” (I added that last association, but the conventional good looks of most vocations promoters were discussed. 😉 ) Actually, a couple of the men whose friendship helped anchor and gave life to my sense of call to the Jesuits *were* vocations promoters, and neither were supermodels (sorry Jim, sorry Drew!) but what drew me was their *life,* their curiosity and interest in life, and their willingness to be touched by life. They were real, and sincere, and salty…they were open to new ideas when I met them.
I started jesuitwomen.net with the hope of strengthening my ability to speak of and live out my own, undefined vocation from the heart of God, unencumbered by internalized oppression…and I did a lot of writing and a lot of talking, and I met a lot of women and men through it and had some excellent conversations and still have two great friends because of it. But what if I really got into the vocations promotion work? Not just talking but finding, listening, facilitating…being available? What would that look like? How can I find the women and the men and how can they find me? All of the vocations promoters I have made friends with, whether it be Religious of the Sacred Heart, Maryknoll Sisters, Roman Catholic Women Priests, Jesuit, or Sisters of Saint Joseph, have been able to “detach with love.” They were vivid and yet consistent. They stayed in touch and offered me opportunities but one of the things that struck me about them, was that they never made me feel like I was being evaluated only as a potential member of their group. They seemed genuinely interested in what God was doing in my life no matter what.
What does it mean for me to be a vocations promoter? For and with others?
Finally, the great competence, honesty, intelligence and vision of my group also inspired me to be really honest about what could be considered the biggest mind shift in my life right now. I think I am pregnant, and the circumstances of the pregnancy put me in a place of letting go of all of the ideas I had about a “perfect” home life or being a “perfect” minister. There is nothing so centering and at the same time shaking-off-the-dust as a possible pregnancy. If this little soul chooses me, I am so happy and excited to welcome the incarnation. I feel at this moment like I have no choice but to grow, to simply be the truth of who I am. I start to feel the unconditionality of love, of relationship, and the surface insecurity of that. It is so insecure not to put conditions on love, and to set boundaries even where there is love, but I think it points to a much deeper security, which is the security of being the truth.