She Carries Me

(Note – this is a reflection not on the Catholic Women Preacher Circle, but on themes from my intro piece: home, transition out of Religious life)

I type these words on a porch swing in the Wisconsin Northwoods on retreat. Mostly, I have slept (between 9 ½ and 11 hours a night!) and taken walks in the woods (finding home in the body!) which is so necessary after the last three months’ stressors – to simply be with God and exhale.

For each of the six years since I left Charlottesville to discern religious life, I’m rereading journals to look back at people, places, experiences, opportunities, etc to ask: Where do I easily feel gratitude? What conjures up grief?  For both what I name “gratitude” and “grief,” where is God active? Where is grace (in retrospect, whether I experienced the moment as positive or negative in the moment)?

And I’m responding in my sketch pad. What from the last six years do I gather as treasure to take with me, and what do I give to God because it’s not mine to carry?

I’m aware of the tendency to either throw a pity party (“poor me! Look at all I gave up to discern religious life and now I have nothing to show for it!”) or to inauthentically silver-lining-ish (“well, it didn’t work out, but look at all these good things that happened along the way! Chin up!”) and sense Jesus with me in naming the truth of these six years, and a letting go of the “If only…” or “what if…” stories to simply, humbly recognize that I don’t know. Yesterday on a solo hike around Lake Fallison, I invited Jesus to walk with me like in the Emmaus story in Luke – and sensed Jesus’ presence in both my lament and hope around the last six years, knowing I need to walk through this to come to freedom to where Jesus wants us to go together next.

               “These transitions come with the right and duty to let go,” a mentor told me as I move through separation from the congregation. Similarly, I came across a Henri Nouwen passage I had copied into my journal: “every time there are losses, there are choices to be made. You choose to live your losses as passages to anger, blame, hatred, depression and resentment, or you choose to let these losses be passages to something new, something wider and deeper.” (from Finding My Way Home)

               I have also been praying with the image of “being carried” from Isaiah in our Monday morning prayer.  It reminded me of this song (though it is rooted in Buddhist, not Christian tradition). In my prayer the “she” is the God who has carried me from birth, during this past six years, and into the next chapter of life.

4 thoughts on “She Carries Me

  1. Rhonda, your narrative took me a long way back to my own transition after (yes) six years in religious life. How much more is available these days to ease the way. At the time (1971) I had no mentor. Your graced way of navigating invites me to revisit that time and plumb its mystery. This music will carry me a long way in the liminal place where I now dwell.

  2. Rhonda, thank you so much for sharing this beautiful song! It touched my heart and made me realize how much I too yearn for God my Mother to carry me. I believe so many, many women need a gracious Mother to mother them and heal their wounds of growing up. It sounds like you are in need of being carried by your Mother. Allow that to happen

    I also find myself wondering if you are allowing yourself to be “okay” with the “both/and” and not feel like it has to be “either/or”? Can you be as honest with God and yourself so that you can really come to be the person God is dreaming of you to be? Can you walk with Jesus the Via Dolorosa to your own Calvary so that you can awaken to your own resurrection? I know you know this, but sometimes we need little nudges. Blessings.

    1. Thank you, Jenny. Yes, thank you for the encouragement to allow myself to simply be carried by my Mother through this transition, and trust Her timing and Her care and Her provision.

      And, yes, the nudges are spot on – the “both/and” of disappointment and gratitude, losing and finding, death and resurrection. And I know this is “the work” for God and I to do together – the sifting and sorting through of what I hold on to and what I let go of in order to move forward with freedom and power (poder).

  3. Jesus walks with you in lament and hope. It has been a gift to be with you in small group to do some of this work of lamenting and hoping together with Jesus. I wonder if a ritual is due for “letting go”?

    I hope you continue to hold onto the treasures – the sweetness, the sap, the honeycomb that was in your last chapter and that you are imbued in the present moment with this grace. Grace that was born out of both hard and good times. May you embody the tree Hildegard spoke of that lives the “gentle viridity” that is God, to be a living testament of a living and healing Church, an example of hope and new growth. Like a tree in Jeremiah planted by the waters, always producing fruit (17:7-8), living hopefully into magis! This tree will grow into something bigger and more beautiful than we imagined!

    Thank you for being you.

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