Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Reduced to Silence

Or should I say "just" silent. That has been where my heart has been these past few weeks. I am longing for silence and my little hermitage that was my novitiate. I am in the process of coming out of the cocoon guess. 

The summer offered some pleasant experiences and some very intense activities. 

My one constant this summer was my garden and still is! Although it has been full of hick-ups and Squash bugs. I was pleasantly surprised by it's fruition! I must say the process of sowing real seeds and reaping real produce has been awesome. Come visit me if you would like to try it out!

This summer marked the longest I have lived in one place since I graduated from high school (ten years ago). The opportunity to indulge in gardening has been awesome. I'm Growing "real" roots. In fact, of everything in my garden this year my carrots did the best! I think that is a good sign. 

Over the years I have been Peach 2! My time this summer with my sisters (Peaches 1 & 3) was great. The freshly picked peaches make a bold trip over the mountains and to the prairies.  They offer an explosion of juice and flavor to our little taste buds that runs all the way down to our elbows. I look forward to next season!

My theology studies have slowly been consuming my time and life. A joy I must say it is to be able to have the opportunity to study. Oh the places it will take me and has taken me...

Along with making vows... I have started a new job, in religious life we call it a new ministry. I am working at our retreat house! I am planning programs youth and young adults here and afar. It is a challenge to start a new job. But with many prayers and with lots of help from the Sisters and my friends, it is happening. 

Praying for you!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Recent newspaper article that written for Year of Peace.

As our the Concordia Year of Peace continues, I am aware of the diversity of needs in our community and within my own day-to-day living. My question is: What do I rely on when I encounter these needs?

For me, living with the intention of nonviolence gives me freedom to be open to the possibilities of life. Nonviolence is a response and a choice to be free of violent structures, private and public, created to maintain power and control. My choice and ever-growing focus is having the courage to lead nonviolently.
My experience has taught be that to have that “courage,” I must first have skills. These skills involve, among others, the practices of meditation, listening and creative response.
The first practice is meditation. I have learned to simply sitting quietly for a while, with an inspiring author, a quote or Scripture reading. I let the words fill the pores of my soul. Letting the words become an action that starts in my mind and filters ever so slowly to my heart, permeating the very depths of my being. An example of this is a quote from Henry David Thoreau, “I went to the woods to live deliberately.”
This practice reminds me, the seeker of the nonviolent way, to be reflective and quiet initially. It allows each response I make to enter more deeply into the situation, seeing the needs of all involved and seeing beyond my reaction. This takes courage.
The second practice is listening. I was reminded a few weeks ago of the Chinese character for the verb “to listen.” The character is made up of the characters for the ear, the eyes, the heart and undivided attention.
Listening to the depths of what surround me is important and requires discipline. To truly listen — with the ear, the eyes, the heart and undivided attention — brings me wholly into a situation. I see this as a positive form of multitasking. This takes leadership.
Meditation and listening develop an inner and an outer awareness of my environment. These actions call me first to be an observer and to be informed. From this point, I can move into action, into my response to the need.
The final practice is creative response and building a nonviolent mentality. This is being able to think and act outside of one’s conditioned models of response. A few weeks ago I found an unexpected pumpkin vine growing in a flowerbed. Knowing that it did not belong, I considered my options: let it go and pay the consequences, pull it up and add it to the compost or transplant it to my plot at the new Concordia Community Garden of Hope. I choose to transplant the pumpkin vine, to give it another go at life. Now I have 25 feet of pumpkin vine and five little pumpkins — and the experience of finding a positive alternative.
Creative response and nonviolent mentality bring about freedom to be and to do things not bound by history, but by the present need and the present potential. Creative response and a nonviolent mentality contribute to being fully aware of the choices we have in our midst and the effects of the decisions being made. Creative response is compassionately entering into life for humanity.
-Julie Christensen
If we have no silence, 
     God is not heard in our music. 
If we have no rest, 
     God does not bless our work.  If we twist our lives out of shape 
      in order to fill every corner of them 
      with action and experience,
God will silently withdraw from our hearts 
     and leave us empty.
-Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Jesus and Gandhi - ponderings

Who is Jesus? Who is Ghandi? What is Nonviolence? What is Peace?

I have been studying Jesus pretty intensely for the past few weeks, as he is present in the Synoptic Gospels, that is by Mark, Matthew and Luke. As of present I am finishing the Gospel of Luke. I have been studying the socio-historical and socio-cultural criticism of the gospels. Specifically my text books describe what Jesus encounter as he was raised by his mother. The history was Roman rule, grotesque power raging in the streets, life (of the vulnerable and poor) meant nothing. The society was plagued with intense religious separation of the honorable and dishonored, pure and impure. Jesus saw these things, knew the Israelite tradition and challenged those who maintained the structures of violence. He wanted to see concord among his contemporaries. He wanted to empower the powerless, encourage the courage-less, and make known the heaven that is in our midst. He commanded communion with our neighbor and acceptance of conflict as way to enter more deeply into the world where we live and the "world" we live in. 

I was also fortunate to have a few days of presentation by a wonderful Marquette University professor in Peace-Making, Terrance Rynne, he spoke on, among others, Mohandas Gandhi and his coined word, Satyagraha. Satyagraha is a firm hold on truth in action (and much more). Gandhi gave his life for justice, nonviolence and the oppressed. He was disciplined and well educated, and aware of the reality of his surroundings especially the people. 

Why do I hide with the curtain of capitalism, consumerism, and individualism... such wonderful people, such potential, such an abundance of power? My egoic desires are insatiable, unattainable and convincing. They reek of the sin of control, fear, fantasy and anger. 

Where is my prayer leading me, if not to disengage these things in my life. Where is my study leading me if not to freedom of these things in my life. The person I choose to control is me, can I do that? Can you do that? Can we do that, in order to live more aware of the life that surrounds us, more in debt to the Giver, more in love with the gifts that abound us and more at peace with being who I am, you are, at peace with being us. 

We are broken and alone, we are wounded and sad. 
We are happy and alive, we are gifted and inspired.

I have met Jesus, I have met Gandhi maybe not in person, but in spirit. In the actions of the people that surround me and in my own actions.  Have you met these people? 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"Be still and know I am God"

I suppose Psalm 46 this is a very common psalm, but something about it gets me every time. "Be still"... God is right here with us all the time. Loving me, accepting me, nurturing me and guiding me. How often do I believe that? How often do you believe that?

I know the second part of this antiphon is of no importance if I am not connected with the first. The first part, "be still," is a joyous, fascinated, filled stillness that is pregnant with life, love and happiness that is constantly giving birth. When am I going to see it for what it is, appreciate it and accept it?

Only then can the next part matter. This part shares with us the power of the pregnant stillness, the part that once we encounter, are no longer the same. This is when we are ignited with/by something much bigger than ourselves, guiding, nurturing, accepting and loving everything. Everything about me that I don't understand, everything about you that I don't understand. Loving everything. Loving everyone.

Actively I seek to know me and the people that surround me more deeply, more courageously, more freely. This kind of love breaks down my defenses, sweetens my sourness, soothes my cynicism and opens my heart to love as it was made to be and to do.

At the beginning of the novitiate a sister, who is very dear to me, gave me a watercolor portrait of this saying and still today, almost two years later it is always in view. Now I have it in my office, reminding me of the pregnancy that is every moment in life especially as I enter into my ministry.

I conclude with Psalm 46 ... "Be still and know I am God"