Sunday, December 26, 2010

Creme Frozee

I was told this evening that I bring a whole new "youth" to Corpus Christi . . . I wonder what sort of youth they had before I arrived??? Actually to tell the truth, they all have just as much youth as I have, it's just mostly in their hearts . . . and in their snowball fighting skills!

If you told me last August that I would be PLAYING in the snow with the sisters with whom I was going to live with I probably would not have believed you--but today would have proved me wrong. Today, the first classified snow storm struck our area, actually the snow is still falling. Maureen and I just came in a little while ago from venturing out for some fun! Snow balls flew shortly after the business of shoveling the walk was complete. Falling across our front lawn I made a beautiful snow angel, I told the girls that when I lie down my true self is revealed!

As we took our frozen selves inside I decided to introduce Kathy and Maureen to Snow Ice Cream, a wonderful creation I discovered out of boredom during last year's snowpocolypse while housebound for days on end. A bowl full of snow, milk, sugar, vanilla extract and a few flicks of the wrist and voila--Snow Ice Cream! Or as Kathy calls it, Creme Frozee!

These unexpected and truly fun moments are strong reminders to me that you can never truly know what something will be like until you step right into the experience of it! Before entering into this adventure I wanted to know everything, to have all my questions answered before I would say "yes." What I have and continue to discover is that there is no way to know what the house looks like on the inside until you walk through the door! I'm so glad I chose to check it out, because what I'm finding is how much I long to stay!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

"To Touch and To Be Touched"

"The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear!"--Buddy the Elf

As much as I enjoyed the Advent season this year I must admit it was challenging for me to get into the "Christmas Spirit." Maybe it was my work hours and the inability to find time to go shopping, enjoy company, and simply relax. Maybe it was the lack of true "CHRISTmas" carols played on the radio (if they played that stupid song "last Christmas I gave you my heart . . . " one more time . . . ) Maybe I have just been in a funk.

Whatever the reason I just couldn't find myself ready. That is until Christmas eve night. With the first notes struck on the organ and the voices of the choir melodiously ringing out through Our Lady of Angels Chapel I felt an overwhelming rush of all the spirit I had lacked throughout the season leading up to this moment! Had I not been attempting to control myself for the sake of singing in choir my eyes would have welled up with tears for the immense happiness I felt. I have spoken often lately about the feeling of "home" . . . as we sang Silent Night, beginning our celebration of Christmas together, I again felt that deep sense of "home." It was as if the restlessness of not feeling prepared was a long journey that lead to the place where you find you just belong.

My parents came to Christmas eve Mass at the Motherhouse. I was so thrilled that they came and enjoyed their time with the community. It meant a lot to me to have my two worlds come together in this way! Celebrating the birth of Christ I too celebrate the birthing of new relationships!

It is late, the sky is still and smells of the impending snow predicted to fall for the next two days. I would be remiss to not mention on this cold Christmas night the beauty of last nights homily. Fr. Cyprian's words brought me a new understanding of God's desire to be in relationship with us and my own desire to share those sentiments. He suggests that Jesus came into our world as a baby because God desires to "touch and be touched." Who can resist holding a beautiful baby, cradling him/her in your arms, hugging and kissing him/her? God desires this same relationship with us! "To touch and to be touched." This is God's desire. As I continue to reflect upon this Christmas message I realize the incarnation of Christ in so many of my own relationships. "To touch and to be touched," to love and to be loved, to give and to receive.

Praise you God for the gift of relationships, and bountiful blessings they have brought into my life!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"Coming to Birth"

The night is still, even the city air is void of sirens and honking cars, and in the quiet of my room I sit with a grateful heart. A friend the other day expressed that this has been "a great Advent." I am not sure that I can say it was "great," I've had my challenges, but it has been a good one! I believe I received a Christmas card from just about every area chapter in the community, along with countless letters of love and support of my decision to discern following Christ through the radical and challenging call of religious life.

Many sisters ask me how I am doing, with that twinkle in their eye insinuating more than just "how is your day going?" I answer them all honestly and sincerely when I say I am doing fabulously! It's like all of a sudden my entire life makes sense. I think for the longest time I was trying to stuff my circular self into a square hole. Realizing and accepting my "circularness" I find myself slipping easily into place. That is not to say this experience is without challenges, but somehow even the challenges seem less insurmountable when you find the life that fits you.

Advent is about preparation, preparing for both the traditional birth of Christ and the second coming of Christ. I received a Christmas card tonight that very beautifully gave me another lens by which to witness Christ's birth. The sister who sent me this card, along with a beautiful icon of Clare, wrote, "May you be blessed by the grace and wonder of the Incarnation as you continue to live into the mystery of God's continued coming to birth in you!" This I believe defines my Advent 2010, making room for the incarnation to occur within me!

Yesterday a friend shared with me her Advent prayer, a prayer she wrote and has allowed me to share with each of you. Kathy humbly gives authorship to God admitting that she is merely a vessel by which God can continue to speak to the world. She is a woman I admire, a friend I trust, and spiritual companion for which I thank God daily! Tonight, in the quiet of the darkened sky I close with her prayer:

The Advent "yes"

Advent is all about "yes".
It all began with a "yes" and continues in each of us as we say "yes".

Yes to the unknown.
Yes in the darkness.
Yes in the fear.
Yes in uncertainty.
Yes in not knowing our own strength.
Yes in not knowing God's strength.

Yes to potential.
Yes to blind faith.
Yes in trepidation.
Yes in persecution.
Yes in harsh judgement.

Yes to life.
Yes to fullness of Joy.
Yes in hope.
Yes to believing in Love and the One who loves you!!

May Advent bring you to a "yes".
May your relationship with God bring you to more Yeses.
And may your life be a melody of yes, to the god who loves you so dearly!!

May the confidence and comfort of this relationship enable you to say "yes",
Even if the yes is to simply say yes to five minutes of prayer or quiet.
God rejoices in each and every yes we give to Him.

This one small "yes" leads to the life of "yes" we witness in Mary, Jesus, and Joseph.

-Kathy McCauley 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas at Corpus Christi

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care . . .

Here at Corpus Christi we celebrated a surprise Christmas! Our Christmas festivities were planned for this coming Tuesday, but this afternoon, after a few of our plans had changed, we realized that all of us would be home. And so, the stockings hung by the chimney with care were handed out and enjoyed by all!

It's not even December 25th but the spirit of Christmas has been alive and well! We had a fun and entertaining celebration together this evening.

What I have most enjoyed about this year's "Christmas experience" has been our intentional recognition of Advent. Sitting above our mantle is our manger set. Each week of Advent a new piece appeared . . . week one, the sheep were scattered about grazing . . . week two the shepherds joined the herd . . . week three Mary, Joseph, and the donkey appeared at the one end . . . and now with each day that draws us closer to Christ's birth, Mary and Joseph move closer to the stable. Of course the Kings and camel will come in January . . .

Today was truly a great day, filled with a true sense of community. For the first time since I've moved to Corpus Christi, the four of us attended Mass together where we joined Sr. Ann McFadden, who so generously treated us to breakfast afterwards.

We all went about our own business throughout the day, but in the evening after our stocking fun we made soft pretzels together.

And to top off our evening we ate them!

Old traditions were celebrated and new one's created, and that's the beauty of Christmas and Community!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Peace that Follows Answering the Call

Three hours should never be the answer to the question, "how long did it take you to get home from work?" But unfortunately that would be the truth if I were asked that very question this evening . . .

Three hours . . .

If you had told me at 2:30 this afternoon it would take that long I would have called up Pat and Eileen in a nano-second and said, "guess what? You have a visitor spending the night!" I am seriously going to put together an overnight bag to keep in my car for future occasions.

I know, you are probably all sitting there reading this thinking, "but it was only an inch!" Yes, that is true, but apparently an inch of snow in Delaware is the freaking Apocalypse! Sitting on I-95 for about an hour, creeping toward the 202 north exit painstakingly slow, and hearing on the radio that there were THREE accidents around MY EXIT I decided to take my chances exiting on 202 north, calling Joan in hopes of finding the back way.

Joan was wonderful, however, the traffic was not, it took all of five minutes waiting to turn off of 202 to regret getting off the highway! Did I mention that Nature had been calling for the past 30 minutes--I was ignoring her!!!

Joan was very kind in agreeing to stay with me on the phone (don't worry I had my ear piece on!!!) She waited out the insanity with me, and calmed me down when I was stressing out about the other drivers on the road. I'm a country girl deep down and city driving is NOT my forte! It stresses me out, not to mention mother nature becoming increasingly incessant with her calling!!!

I couldn't wait any longer, I felt like a three year old throwing a temper tantrum in the line for the women's restroom at an amusement park, or concert, or baseball game. . .

That Burger King cup from four days ago sat tempting me in the cup holder . . .

I desperately searched for a convenient spot to pull over but the winter shrubbery was quite bare making it difficult to find proper coverage for peeing in public! Not to mention I'm still on the phone with Joan, who claims "pulling my finger" will relieve the pain of holding it all in!

I was reaching my breaking point, in stopped traffic I used my coat to cover myself, and without divulging all my secrets of clothing removal, I went in the cup. All the while I was still talking to Joan about directions, when I rolled down my window to dispose of the contents of the Burger King cup, Joan asked what the noise was. . . I shyly admitted I couldn't wait anymore!

So, my theological reflection on peeing in my car . . . cause you know I have one! Sometimes we have urges, and sometimes they are simply too great to ignore. I believe God is like this in our lives, seriously stay with me, God calls us until we have no choice but to answer the call. God is patient in waiting but God is always there like Nature's call reminding us that there is something greater. This may sound ridiculous to some of you, but that feeling of relief is felt not only with answering Nature's call, but God's call as well. There is a great relief in finally saying "yes" to God. A peace so simple and yet so deeply profound!

Three years ago I sat in a bathroom stall with a friend in Chicago, having been in desperate need of a bathroom we theologized about that relief . . . I think there is something profound that is worth reflecting on, and so I challenge you, the next time you have to go . . . think of the peace that follows!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sisters of Old, Sisters of the West

The wind was gently blowing, the ground beneath where I sat crossed-legged was hard and cold, there was a chill in the air that made me want to retreat to the indoors where the heat was surely roaring--but I felt called to prayer in the most unique way. I was sitting behind Our Lady of Angels Convent in the middle of the cemetery, in front of Sr. Franciscetta Linus' grave asking for prayers.

I never knew Franciscetta, in fact I was nearly 11 months old when she died. I had been walking the grounds around the graves of all the sisters who have gone before, and I felt called to ask for their prayers and support. If we truly believe in what we proclaim then all those sisters are partaking in the communion of saints and for this we should rejoice knowing that we have such special people looking after us!

There was no reason for my choosing this particular sister other than as I walked the rows of stones, reading names, I felt drawn to her, maybe it was the year she died, "1983" the same year I was born, maybe it was her name (which I'm not sure I can even pronounce) but is quite unique, maybe she really did speak to me, calling me into communion with her. For whatever reason the two of our paths have crossed I am certain the Holy Spirit had some work in it!

As I sat there praying that chilly Sunday afternoon, meditating upon my own journey, and asking Sr. Franciscetta to be with me, I felt the incredible presence of the sisters in that grave yard dancing around me. It felt like a mystical communion of saints, the sisters of old dancing about me in joy and support. It was truly an amazing prayer experience, one for which I am sure I will continue to be grateful and of which I will continue to reap the benefits.

Friday I was reminded of this experience when upon arriving home I opened a letter stuffed with greetings from sisters in Tacoma, Washington. Like Sr. Franciscetta, with the exception of two, I have never met these sisters, and yet I feel deeply bound to them. Their words of welcome, love, and support brought tears to my eyes. "You are an answer to prayer and God's Call." "May you feel the love, prayers, and support of the sisters as you journey." "Thank you, Sara, for saying YES and I welcome you to our dear Community." "My prayer for you is that through God's grace and the help of His Most Holy Mother, you will find the peace, joy and contentment that your heart desires, in our way of life!"

I am overwhelmed with the support and love these sisters have offered me! I share in the "hope" that many of them expressed in their letters, that I may one day travel to the West to meet them. For now, through the sisters of old and the sisters of the West and truly the whole community, I know deep in my heart I have found home.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Unimaginable Future

South Wilmington, an abandoned lot, three homeless men, and a windchill factor of 15 degrees. Earlier today my sister shared this image with me, she had just returned from a site visit in which she felt concerned for these men who had no where to go but this deserted lot. The more we talked the more I felt hopeless.

This past summer I had the opportunity to travel through India and Nepal. This reflection was written after experiencing the poverty stricken streets of Delhi.

Shanty towns line the streets--I can only imagine that this might have been the scene in the States during the great depression. Only here there is no depression--this is daily life. Tarps held up by rope tied between trees housing families. Babies playing in trash piles naked from the waist down. Women hanging laundry to dry bushes (I can only imagine where they washed them and it's not an image I wish to retain but fear I should.) Questions rise up in me--do these people have jobs? Where do the children go to school? Do they attend school? How do the "wealthier" Indians view these "street dwellers"? How do they survive? Do they have family? Friends? Do they know they are poor? Street children beg for money--but as much as my heart desires to help them my head knows they are being exploited by adults and will never actually benefit from whatever change I gave. This is poverty--

I am keenly aware f my own wealth, the reality is I probably have more money in my money belt than these people make in a year. What is my Christian responsibility here? It is hard, near impossible for the rich person to enter the gates of heaven. What then does this mean for me? I am the wealthiest 1%--I am not sure I could be poor even if I tried. How do I justify my life? How do I live in the brokenness of Christ? How do I become one with others who are broken? I had no choice in my wealth--it can only be considered gift--if so, how do I share my gift and for what reason has God given this responsibility to me?

Today, this moment, I ask God to bless the poor and broken living in the streets in all cities, in all the countries, in all the world. Bless those who seek justice, and those who simply embrace justice even though unsure of how to attain it. And may the Lord abundantly shower peace and understanding upon the barren, dry, drought inflicted Earth--Amen!

As I re-read these words written a short five months ago I am reminded of those feelings that welled up inside of me as I experienced the poorest of the poor. I am an outsider attempting to live in solidarity with people I can't fully understand. Moments like those I had on the streets of the capital of India and those I have here in hearing or experiencing the poor in my backyard make me feel a bit hopeless.

There is so much poverty in this world, it seems overwhelming. How can I, or we, even make a dent into the needs of our world? I did not have an answer in the streets of Delhi and I don't have an answer now, but I think feeling helpless is not the answer. Even if my efforts make little difference in the greater picture of our world I must work toward something even if it seems hopeless . . .

I shared my feelings of defeat with my sister this afternoon, she said, "I'm sure once you become a nun you will have the ability to do a lot more outreach to the community." In that simple statement she reflected back to me one of my deepest desires pushing me toward pursuing this path. There is love in my heart that is too powerful to hold for a few, I hope that this life brings me the ability to love the world more deeply and that it opens paths to me that as I sit here tonight I cannot even imagine.

I had lunch a few weeks ago with Sr. Marijane, we spoke of saying "yes" and how it is only after our "yes" that God reveals things to us that are better than anything we could have imagined! I look forward to the unimaginable future!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

You're Wearing Your Diet Well . . .

"Sara, you're wearing your diet well!" Sr. Anita said from down the hallway after lunch the other day. That's an odd way of putting it, I thought to myself. I am learning all sorts of new expressions for things these past few months, so maybe this was just one of those sayings . . .

I was thinking about it later . . .

Dieting is not usually something you can "see" per say. Of course you can see the effects of a diet, but can you see the diet itself? No, not really. But this is what she was insinuating, that my diet could be seen--I was "wearing" it. This got me thinking. . .

My "diet" is in reality my recent intentional decision to start eating healthier and more proportionally appropriately. Changing one's eating habits is an internal change, it's not typically something that, as Sr. Anita suggests, can be "worn." Yet, this was her wording . . . so the intentional internal shift has caused something visible on the outside.

Interesting . . .

So, how then do we make this happen when speaking about the spiritual life?

This question got me thinking, especially in this season of Advent. How can I "wear my Advent?" As we prepare for the Christmas season, and the second coming of Christ, how can I get spiritually uncovered?

I'm not really sure that I have an answer to this question, but I reckon it has something to do with expressing feelings freely, living truthfully, and being honest to the call within. I think it's worth experimenting with . . . So, this Advent I'm going to work on wearing my Advent!