Monday, June 13, 2005

Connect The Dots . . . .. .. Of Your Life Thus Far! PLUS...discussions on the Vows of Chastity/Celibacy and Obedience! Come on in!

Welcome to "The Day in the Life of a Nun", if you are just joining us, I am so glad that you did:) Feel free to look at the two previous posts to get a feel for the great people who have passed through and the awesome conversations we have had! Please add your own thoughts, feelings, comments or questions...at any post, at any time!

Wanted to start a fresh post, so I went upstairs and asked one of my sisters what would be a good idea to throw out there. And, as she was so filled with the commencement speech that Steve Jobs gave to this years Stanford graduates, she began to tell me of his message.

In brief, it is if you are trying to figure out your next steps in life...STOP!...and connect the dots of your life that has already passed. For example, he shared how he was given up for adoption, because his birth mother knew she could not give him a the life she wanted for him - which was to go to college. As it turned out, he was adopted by working class parents who gave every last dime to his college education, but he could not bear their sacrifice, so dropped out after 8 months.

He still attended classes that interested him by selling old coke bottles, had one good meal a week from the local hare Krishna Temple and slept on a friends floor. Intrigued by calligraphy, he took a class and 10 years years later when he was designing the Macintosh he incorporated that knowledge and introduced fonts! He said, "If I hadn't followed my intuition and taken that calligraphy class, personal computers may not have had that wonderful typography today!"

Briefly, he also shared, that years later he was FIRED from his OWN company and found himself "wandering" again, but this time, saw it as an opportunity to grow in new, creative ways and invented Pixar, yes, "Finding Nemo" and all! That's when he said, " Believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence and trust to follow your heart, now, even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and THAT will make all the difference!"

So, maybe we can STOP together and share some of our dots...look and see what dots have "connected" in your life so far and see if you feel a new confidence and trust to take that next step, whatever it may be...it all connects in the end!

And, as always, if you have a question about being a nun, please put it out there! I am happy to answer it for you:)
God's peace, your justbebecky :)

34 Comments:

Blogger JustBeBecky said...

Hi Finn, good to hear from you again! I did wave didn't you see me?:) That was a late night and I admit the blogging made it so...but every minute worth it! I love coming on here and hearing from your guys. Thanks for your affirming words about it all! They are appreciated:)

Your insights about the "being it all" mom, nun or single person was great! I never thought of that before, but it is so true, your models are not only multi-tasking in projects but in multi-roles! Whew! That is more than I could stand up to!

I think what you said, finn, ask the young, "Not WHAT do they want to be but HOW they would like to share their gifts with others" is a wonderful message to our younger people. Is it something you could follow now or is your formation too deeply embedded into the marrow of your bones "to be all for all and in all"?

I hope you do try those "new "things, finn, whatever they may be for you and I love how you said, "God would not want to foist anything on anyone. Anything but his love, that is" As I read that I am reminded of one thing I said I wanted to come out of this life with and that is that, "I loved". Yet, as the years have gone by I have added a second phrase and that is that, "I loved and allowed myself to be loved." Both are key to our living a full abundant life.

Sometimes we think, as Christians, all we need to do is love, but to allow ourselves to be loved, too, is just as valuable and sometimes the harder thing to do! That is still my focus and center and desire nothing else...so indeed, it is more living the life of HOW to be in the world than WHAT to do in the world! What do you think?

There are a lot of dots that I had to connect to come to all that...and will give more next time around:) I am trying for an earlier night:) though I will miss the midnight wave, finn, know in spirit it is there:)!

I put a huge "reflection" on my KidsGodQuestions blog today on the Prodigal Son in case any one is interested (there is a link on this home page:) that took most of my "blog energy" today:)

Hope to hear from you all soon and newcomers you are always welcome to the site!
God's love for you "just as you are" as his precious loves! Always, your justbebecky :)

9:34 PM  
Blogger JustBeBecky said...

God's peace to all! Had a good day, just in my office emailing our great parishioners, talking with our great staff, had a spiritual direction session that was so powerful! God is good!

I thought I would put a few dots out tonight and then connect them in a future email, okay, here they are....a child dreaming in New Mexico....Jacques Cousteau....corral reefs....ENMU....special ed. major...last minute road trip....the fragrance of orange blossoms....the ocean of Huntington Beach...a twenty dollar bill...nightclub singer, not....Fiat sport spider....crumbled holy card found in the gutter by two little boys... well, that's enough dots to connect for now, rather, for later:)

Have a peaceful night with your God, no one loves you more:) your justbebecky

9:39 PM  
Blogger JustBeBecky said...

Oh, it has been a nice relaxing weekend with a dear friend!
It is really feeling like....
"Summertiiiiime and the livin'is eeeeasy"! God is good!

Hope all are doing well today! Saw a great video last night, "Shall we Dance?" with Richard Gere, is he still hot or what?!! Found himself in a midlife crunch with so much, yet,"stuck" in his relationship with his wife, happy, yet, seeking something more, and needing to make the time for it to happen (for himself and her).

Great way it turned out, with the two of them becoming "more" because of their risk-taking journey. Good message...to live life with risk is to find the more you've been looking for!

As I look at my "dot journey" I laid out here, it, too, is filled with looking for "the more" even though I was "happy" in who I was and what I was doing.

I think God planted in all of us this MORE only because we can never know him
by one experience or by one relationship or in one place and time. So it would be key that we are open to ALL life that is around us...and within us.

So here are a few of my dots connecting...me to this more! I was a little girl in New Mexico dreaming for the more in my young life and somehow felt seeing the ocean would be a part of it. I watched Jacques Cousteau and his many adventures among the fish and corral reefs and that began my dream to see the ocean one day!(or was this dream planted a long time before I even got here:)

Going to college at ENMU, where I majored in Special Education, did not get me any closer to my "ocean dream" but it turned out to hold the ticket for the trip.

Some of my friends and I, in our Senior year, finally took that road trip to the ocean. (that story is told more completely in the last post:) And on the way to the ocean, going through Arizona, the smell of the orange blossoms invited me to a new home I would seek after college. We landed in Huntington Beach and the Lord unexpectedly but overwhelmingly spoke to my heart (again in the past post:)

When I got back, I applied to every job posible in Arizona with no remote possibility of hire, yet, I turned down job after job in NM, CO, TX, even CA and I just waited through the summer until I was hired, by some miracle, in my orange blossom city where I became a teacher by day and a wanna be night club singer by night (not!).

For my first gig I needed a sound system, so went to the local church to borrow one (I had not been in church for years but thought they might be able to help) well, the pastor said he had none for me to use but gave me instead a twenty dollar bill and mentioned if I ever wanted to come sing at church I was welcome. I thanked him and took the money.

Well, of course, the twenty did not go far to get any equipment so I took a friend to Black Angus for steak and lobster to drown my sorrows. Later feeling a little guilty about the twenty, I showed back up at the church and offered a song, being I hadn'been to church for soooooooooooo long, I did not know any of the songs, so I pulled out an old John Denver, first words being, "Listen to what the good book says..." (can't rem the title, now) sang it out, and as I was on my way, the pastor invited me back again, and before you know it, I was playing at Mass, then leading the group, then giving concerts, going on retreats, giving retreats, preaching at Mass, my whole world, inside out, opened up!!! And I still heard a deeper call to the ocean.

Had a boyfriend at the time who had a great little sport spider fiat, he later sold it to me for a great price and, "I thought now this is sportin and what I will need on that California coast someday!"

Time went on and I was happliy teaching, singing, sportin' around with my boyfriend, but something from "the ocean" kept calling me and I didn't want to hear the message this time....because it sounded like if I did, my whole life would be turned upside down!

So, I continued on, until two of my little special kids came tumbling excitedly into my classroom one morning with a crumbled up holy card and as they smoothed it out they proudly said they found it just for me!

Well, it WAS just for me, as my heart stopped as I turned it over and it said, "Have you ever thought of being a sister...?" As I turned to them suddenly, and said, "Where did you get this?!" They quickly answered, thinking from my tone, they were in trouble, "We found it in the gutter on the way to school, really we tried to smooth it out for you, we thought you would like it!" (I often say I got my vocation call from the gutter, our God can be found any where...especially by two little boys:) It took more than a few calls other than that, but those dots are for connecting another day!:)

So there were just a few dots the Lord connected in my life. We but just have to reflect for a moment to see the Lords hand in our life's journey.

It gives me peace to know that with the Lord, we do not have to see "wrong" turns as a "bad" thing, because in the end the Lord weaves it all into a beautiful tapestry of love. All is good!

Well, I am off and about into this glorious sunny day for a hike in our beautiful nature area! Have a good one yourself and keep taking those "dot-risks" that find you in those "more" places of your life that leads to such peace, happiness and love!

God's love, your justbebecky :)

11:24 AM  
Blogger JustBeBecky said...

HI All! Good day today, just a little low energy from such a relaxing, awesome weekend. Like getting out of bed was a testament of pure love for our little Vacation Bible School campers (all 200 of them) to do the rockin' music with them, up on a stage no less! Well, it woke me up a little bit anyway:) They are cuties!

Otherwise, just a pretty low key day, with a little "power" nap (anything under an hour counts:) a bike ride to do my great Curves workout, lazed in the garden, fed the finches, cool prayer with my sista's, and topped the evening off with a late salada dinner in our little, but beautiful, convent garden with my two homegirls, who are like the best!!! :) We had a great conversation on ALL kinds of cool stuff, they just keep lightin' my way, what can I say!:)

And here I am just bloggin' my little heart out to the wide world web! WOW! Is that like awesome or what?
Let me see what else is up.... oh yes, I had a cool dream last night, all kinds of people hanging out with me and this one person gave me a paper and it said, "You are not living a life, you are life!" I woke up and thought, "Whoa! way cool...(and if I was Finn, I would add, Beans!:)

But I have been thinking of it all day...that I am not living "a life" I AM life! It is like, sometimes when we think of life, it has a past, present and future, but when you think of yourself AS life...all of the sudden, you are so present, so now, like right here emanating a great, light energy or life energy out into the the world! Cool!

It really made me feel what I am doing right now (be it singing with the kids, napping, exercising, praying, laughing, kickin' back or whatever:) it became so important, so simple, so real, so precious...I am life, not living a life. How does that hit you, my vast www, and fav' bloggers out there? :)

Peace and Pancakes! (remember when your dad used to make those for dinner sometimes:) a nice warm memory to sleep on!
Always, your justbebecky:)

9:34 PM  
Blogger Finn said...

What's the haps, Sis Becky? I've been hanging out with my homies too! Last night's discussion was on chastity and celibacy in today's world. Very HOT topics :)

I saw my priest buddy too last night and we continued the celibacy/sexuality thread. It's very interesting for me to get a man's point of view on celibacy because I think they have a more difficult time struggling with it. I learned last night that it is a lifelong struggle for many people in religious life. You get used to it and embrace it and love it. But there are still those dark nights of the soul. The idea was actually comforting. Because I would not want to think that my sexuality just goes away if I take religious vows. It's a vital and integral part of our beings. It's got to be of some use other than creating a family or creating intimacy with another human being. Isn't it???

My bud priest and I also discussed the liberating aspect of celibacy. It is very freeing to relate to another person without the "sex angle". I can be attracted to a guy and that's it. I can love deeply and hold someone in my heart without sleeping with him. In fact, celibate relationships can even be as, or even more, intense and intimate. This is pretty cool beans!

I'm sorry if I sound like such a newbie. But I am. I've been a serial monogamist - I've had one serious relationship after another since I was 16. I've been "relationship free" now for over a year. And I am amazed at how much I've grown interiorly. It's good to finally have time to clarify my thoughts and my desires. I've always entertained the idea of entering a convent since I was in my teens. The attraction, the pull has always been there. But I also loved (still love) men and so here I am a couple of decades later, still kinda sitting on the fence....And one of the reasons (big reason) is the whole celibacy thing.

So Sis Becky, would you please help me out here? I know this is a really muddled post but I have all these questions and I know you can answer them. First the basics:

How does one prepare for a celibate life? What kind of attitude(s) should one have? Do I have to be celibate for a certain period of time before I get accepted into the "Come and See" program? How do you embrace your sexuality and/or nourish it while you are celibate?

Wow, I have sex on the brain or something. Maybe I shouldn't have broken up with my last boyfriend. Kidding! Harhar.

OK, I promise to stay ON TOPIC next time. I'll think of my dot journey and share that with you. Funnily enough I keep thinking of my dot journey as a series of cities/places I've lived in or have been a part of me. Here goes:

Shoreham by Sea. London. Manila. Los Angeles. Hong Kong. Tokyo. Osaka. Bangkok. Kuala Lumpur. Penang. Guam. Saipan. San Francisco. New York City. Montauk. Madrid. Aragon.

I may have missed some but I will tell you all about it when I can.

Thanks for listening, Becks.

Love you,
Finn

5:11 PM  
Blogger JustBeBecky said...

A big welcome to Carpediem (by the way GREAT name)! Glad you came on! All who are here may take a look at the bottom post (#54/55) where Carpediem had some good comments on differing ways ‘to be in love’ with the Lord. Please feel free to comment “here or there” and we will get into that great discussion, soon, as well!

Just wanted to begin our conversation with Finn on chastity...it will continue for awhile, I’m sure, so stay tuned! Just want to touch on a few of your opening remarks, Finn, and then we’ll get into your questions on the bottom at a later time.

First of all, great to hear from you, Finn, I always enjoy your thoughts and “to the point” questions and this is a great one!

You will find sisters, when looking at the three vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience, usually find one very difficult and others less challenging. A good question to ask them is, “Which of the vows of Poverty, Chastity or Obedience really challenges you to grow into the fullness of the religious woman you are with your God and his people?” From there you will get a pretty good idea which one challenges her the most, because that is from which her greatest growth would have come. The vows are indeed the essence of how a religious woman will discover herself, her God, her sisters, her world!

Kudos to your priest, bud, Finn, he is right on! I would agree that while generally men struggle with it a bit more, it is usually a different “part” of the vow. Where men are innately physical when it comes to expressing love to another, they may struggle with the lack of “sexual expression” while women on the other hand, many times can express their love in so many other ways than the physical expression of sexual intercourse, that it may not be as challenging as, “just not having a life partner at their side or even more so, not to have the beautiful gift of birthing their own child.” (I have heard more than one sister say, that the hardest part is not having children, not necessarily not having a life partner)

For myself, as a religious woman, I can live without sex, but I cannot live without intimacy. To share my heart and soul at the deepest part of my known self with another person, to me is intimacy AND a necessity. To have one who understands you and loves you “just as you are” with no expectations. To have one who encourages your personal spiritual growth as you nurture theirs. There is a depth in such loving that actually it is hard to explain, because you actually share a relationship of three...you, God and me! Note, that God is in the middle, not “refereeing” but actually freeing you both to grow into the fullest expression of his love as you can be on this earth, together!

Of course, when you are loving at such depths, one will want to share it “all the way”, but somehow you know this gift of intimacy is not just for three it is for the WE of the world...it is a special love that flows out into the world freely and generously to all you meet. But, it continues to be nurtured by the ability and vulnerability to love one or two through this intimate way of loving.

The sexual part can be a challenge and needs to be tended to, but like I’ve always heard and agreed with, “The vow of chastity is not meant to be kept, (like a frigidare, if you know what I mean) but given away!” Never stop loving with your entire sensual and sexual being because you may fear, “going too far” or “making a mistake”. God knows we are sensual, loving, social beings, he must be, too, he made us. But, to be sensual and sexual can take so many different ways and means in loving another. Of course, this will vary from person to person, I do not want to generalize anyone’s unique and precious experience.

I have heard many times that marriage counselors try to encourage their couples to actually refrain from sexual expression so as to approach the “love relationship” more creatively, deeply and significantly. I think you alluded to this, also, finn.

How often do you hear that people “make love” only to “feel loved” and does that happen? Often not, because love is not a feeling, it is experiencing “life to the full” all the agonies and ecstasies it has to offer...not what TV, books, or movies so often portray...but from really loving someone intimately, vulnerably through and through, not needing the full expression of body to “authenticate or validate" your love.

The two know who they are. They are the WE in the world! They are the three’s (you, God and me) that stand up in the world and say WE are ONE people, ALL loved by this awesome God, let us be ONE in this unfolding love of our God and help re-create this planet with focused love and peace! That is what celibate love lives and proclaims. It is funny, this kind of love called celibate loving is at once deeply personal and intimate and, too, so transparent for ALL to see and experience! So much like the ways of our God.

How can I, as a religious woman, speak of love unless I, myself, am truly giving my heart through loving? How can I minister to those seeking love if I have not committed myself to love, personally, communally with my sisters and even more outward, globally...cosmically? We need more of these kind of lovers in this world. Are you one?

I think I have grown in knowing why this life fits me more and more each year (rem it is a life long discovery) and that is because, “I am absolutely in love with love”, in other words this is the only life that affords me to love all people, all ages, everywhere...yes, intimately! That is what I am doing right now with you in this blog sharing, (I bet for moments you even forgot it was a blog!) as I am sharing something very intimate and close to the heart of God with you. Something that is resonating inside of you, right now, if you’ve known love intimately. And, that is how our God loves everyone...so private, so personal, so committed, so true, and yet, at the same time, so wide, so universal, so vast, so ever new!

Much of what you’ve written, finn, is what I am expressing. That your YOU that can rise in a WE kind of relationship and it is awesome. And yes, the dark night is there, as it is in any life we choose. But, there is no night dark enough that our God cannot break through, if we but break through our own denials and just be honest with ourselves and our needs spoken to our God in the intimacy of that dark...he holds us well.

It is good you still love men, finn, so do I. It would make a sorry religious who is espousing universal loving, and not love half of the population! Look at your attraction to men, be honest, what is at the root of that attraction? It can be many things...I could suggest a few, but want you to think about it first and give me a few.

I will continue with your following questions, finn, How does one prepare for a celibate life? What kind of attitude(s) should one have? Do I have to be celibate for a certain period of time before I get accepted into the "Come and See" program? How do you embrace your sexuality and/or nourish it while you are celibate? (so you know I did not forget them:)

I kind of got on this roll, you can well tell which vow is my anchor to him, my impetus for much growth and my vision of love for the world! (please note this is something I grew into over many, many, many, years...:)

There is no “ON TOPIC” requirement here, you know me I am just sharing along until someone bites and gets some cool conversation like this going on! BUT, I do look forward to your dot journey, finn...from to Shoreham by Sea. London. Manila. Los Angeles. Hong Kong. Tokyo. Osaka. Bangkok. Kuala Lumpur. Penang. Guam. Saipan. San Francisco. New York City. Montauk. Madrid. Aragon. We can continue the celibacy conversation first, if you’d like.

All listeners please feel free to come on and share your thoughts or further questions! All of us have life experience and wisdom to share.

Always, when all is said and done,
your justbebecky:)

11:07 PM  
Blogger stillcurious said...

Hi Carpediem it was nice to read your post and justbebecky your reply was what I needed. I have been reading everyone's comments and have been wondering what my problem is. I have a deep love for God but I just can't express it here as beautifully as you all do.
Just last night I was thinking that I need to stop beating myself up over it and except that this is who I am. God doesn't seem to have a problem with it so why do I?

Regarding the vows sisters take, I don't think I'ld have a problem with chastity or poverty (been there, done that) but obedience...

8:12 AM  
Blogger carpediem said...

Hi,

Thanks for all the sharing. It is SO nice to see people who are unafraid of God talk. I love that! And, I think I can connect my response to the life of a nun post to this chastity discussion. :)

Ok, so here we go...I've been thinking about how to write this post all day and all last nite too. Thanks a lot! :) No, the thinking process was good. I know I am going to leave stuff out, but c'est la vie.

I had written about serving with all my heart. Since others have talked so much about music, maybe this line from a song I heard in church can help explain. One day I heard the words, "As a servant He calls to me, you must serve too." I was completely taken by the words...they take my breath away. I couldn't get over the words "as a servant." My Jesus... our Jesus... a servant?! Exactly whose?!?!? I know I had heard Jesus called that probably thousands of times, but that day it resonated differently. Our God sent us Her/His love, teachings, joy, hopes, dreams, everything with Jesus. Jesus poured forth with love, these teachings, etc. in His own teachings, His manner, His healing, His life (I know... it's like "duh!" right?). So I thought to myself about how do I (or do I at all?) reflect God's love in the world and how do I say I love God back? And, I think that is the point at which I realized I'd probably joined the "God's-Volunteer-For-Eternity" club. When I care for someone else in some way, I feel like I am saying, "Hey, God, I see you here and I love Ya." It's all I really need, but...

I know that I had really, really, really, really wanted the "love affair" with God, but it wasn't/isn't happening. In fact, it's something I don't get at all, but I wanted to and I do respect it! Figure that out! That is why I get so confused with discernment. Most of the nuns (sorry, sisters) I know that talk about their relationships with God have more romantic relationships. If I don't have that kind of relationship with God, do we have a relationship that allows us to stay joyfully in a convent all my life? Or, is God saying, "You know, you can serve me like that without being in the convent and, by the way, you'll miss out on this kind of love if you enter the convent bec. it's not going to come from Me directly?!"

Which brings me to chastity. Yea! Finally. The vows (I am SO with you StillCurious - obedience is like WHOA!! to me... but I think about it as obedience to God even if filtered thru others, so that makes it easier to process... kinda :)... Chastity... I don't worry about it in the physical sense... but I think chastity is kind of like saying I won't fully, absolutely dedicate myself to anyone EXCEPT You, God. Ah, so you see my problem with that...'cause I meet God in a service zone. The best part of chastity, though, is if I am not attached, I can go where- ever the Spirit moves me. I am able to love and serve others more fully. :)

Sorry... this is INCREDIBLY lengthy. I can't believe I wrote all that. Good night.

1:13 AM  
Blogger JustBeBecky said...

Stillcurious and Carpediem, you both just warm my heart. Thank you.

Stillcurious, I am so glad that you are stillfollowing us along, I could actually feel your incredible presence along the way. I do invite you, like Carpediem, to come on and share your experience of God. I was so HAPPY to see your "break through" in NOT beating up yourself for "your way of being in love" with God. And you are right, God does not have a problem with it, and in fact dances at the thought of you I am sure! :)

We can look at the vow of Obedience next if you would like, as I see that, you, Carpediem have the same interest...and challenge:) I really thank you both for coming on, I know that it was a leap of faith for you.

I really think that many (if not most) sisters really have a quiet, simple, unspoken and deep relationship with their God expressed in service. I do agree with you, Carpediem, that on our vocation weekends, it is our sisters who are there that share their “love stories” and I am one of them, and all is true and authentic, but I think the piece maybe we are missing is that we do not tell of our “continued” journey with God which takes that "love story" to such new and different places through the years. (as I will share a bit in a minute)

And I know we have many sisters with more of your experience of God, but they too, find it hard to share, either they are too shy or too introverted or can’t find the words to describe their relationship with God because it is more action (service) than words or know their story will “pale in the light” of the sisters sharing their love stories. So, consequently for these weekends, the more introverted sisters may not sign up to share, which may mean you will hear all "extraverted” stories, which naturally tend to be pretty good with words and describing their God experiences.

Thank you for bringing this up, it is helpful for me. I think I will devise a vocation weekend for INTROVERTS ONLY and invite our introverted sisters to share! :) Oh well, it reminds me of one of our favorite Dominican sayings, "If you’ve met one Dominican, you’ve met one Dominican!" (and you know of course, you can be introverted and have that “love affair” experience as well, :) You will not miss out in the convent on any love with our God, Carpediem, she/he just does not work that way, the love you experience will be just as real as any, why? Because it is yours.

It is so about our personality and too, as I think more about it, “in what way is best for us to experience our God at the point we find ourselves in our lives” will be an important question, too!

One's "image of God" changes often through a lifetime, depending on one's life experiences. For example, my God knows I am a "touchy feely" kind of person, so my first experience of him would need to be in that realm (as it was) to even get my attention. And so I began with a real “just God and me" relationship and it was wonderful.

But, as I grew in age and in my faith, I found that "feeling" level with God became less and less. I was shocked and astounded! What was God doing? Was God leaving me? Was it real? Is it over? It put me into a real state of fear and confusion!! And the reason I came to know why the feeling became less was because, God wanted me to ground the love we shared in people...to see God in his people!

So you see, Carpediem, where you BEGAN, seeing God in the people you serve, is where I needed to GO! Now was it a hard journey for me, to bring my relationship with God to the people? Like YES, about 7 years worth and counting....! It was when I entered with our sisters, I could see in the sisters it was not "just about God and me" but that big WE I was talking about earlier...and that WE happens when you can find God IN people.

Even though God knew it would be hard for me to get this, he also knew that would be crucial for my living this life to the full. You see Carpediem how individual, unique and how intimately God is involved? God knows us and reveals him/herself as needed for us at the time. So while you were really, really, really praying for that romantic love relationship with the Lord, I was really, really, really praying for a "down to earth" God in the faces of the people around me I serve relationship! We just cannot compare any of it, because it is so tailored to "who we are" and “where we are” and how our God's loving ways will be revealed to us in time.

I have found that our relationship with God changes, twists and turns ALL our lives...(I always tell people, if you're bored, get a spiritual life)

I am on about my seventh God image, which always means? Something new in the relationship. (And that does not include the times I had "no" image of God and even wondered if he really existed!!! We can talk about all that sometime, too, if you'd like)

Even though they are such confusing and difficult time with our God, I have come to trust those "twists and changes" in our relationship because they have always brought a wider vision of our God and who I am and who God’s people are and then how ALL of us come into closer communion. Yes, God is always more.

Carpediem, you are like totally in the Zone of Chastity, because to be dedicated in love with God IS to be dedicated to love God's people! You cannot separate God from the people. As we are made in God’s image, we are so connected and so one!

I have known many priests and sisters who have served God (without that “direct” love factor) and they live VERY peacefully and happy, knowing that when they serve God’s people they ARE "directly” serving God and thus feel very loved, content and fulfilled.

They feel it is through their acts of service is their deep love connection with their God is strengthened and sustained! It takes their “breath away”, as you say, to help people get off the streets and into homes or to raise earth consciousness or to work to change an unjust system so all can be fed ...now all of THAT, indeed, would take my breath away!

Thanks again for coming on, I know it was difficult for you both. Please come again! I learned a lot! :)

We await more conversation from you all! Let us know how you see chastity or your relationship with God or...... There is just so much here to talk about!
God’s peace is with you, your justbebecky:)

6:28 PM  
Blogger Finn said...

Hi Curious! Thank you for bringing up the Obedience vow. When Sis Becky said that most sisters have problems with one of the three vows, I gulped. I knew I was in trouble because I struggle with two - chastity and obedience. Poverty is all right with me. Like you said, been there, done that.

And hello Carpediem! Thank you too for talking about loving our God through service because that is a major component of my relationship with him. My high school class's motto was "serviam" or I Serve. And I really took that to heart. I feel like I am always looking to serve him because he really is "My Lord and My God." Anyway, I'd love to explore this with you all.

Hi Beckster! Thank you so much for your lovely and inspiring posts. I will try to respond to your questions when I get another chance. I just wanted to pop in and say thank you to all of you, my fellow travellers! :):):)

I'm off to watch a movie, so bye for now.

With love, your Finn

8:24 PM  
Blogger carpediem said...

Hello Everyone!

All you ladies are amazing!! Many thanks to all for the sharing... I can't explain how much I appreciate it! Just knowing there are other women out there thinking about the "life of a nun" for herself (whether in service or in love or both) kinda makes me feel validated and less...umm... (I am sorry to say) weird.

I think I am still processing all that I read, so that's it for the moment. Kinda looking forward to the thoughts on obedience! :)

4:47 PM  
Blogger JustBeBecky said...

Good to hear from you both, Finn and Carpediem! I am in Santa Fe, New Mexico, visiting my cool family! Went out for Chinese with my brother's fam' and had a great time. His latest passion is micro-brewies...can anyone relate?! :)

Of course, I hit my famed Curves today and had a great workout! Other than that it was a hang loose day with my awesome mom...she's the best! And my neice, who is the quickest texter in the Southwest and is giving me pointers! She sent and received 5,000 text messages in one month, her parents wigged out on the $700.00 bill, her company congratulated her on a new record. It was a misinformed unlimited, so they did not pay...whew!

Looks like we are ready to jump into the next vow of obedience. Just want to leave you with a few thoughts for tonight, to get the conversation started!

First off, need to look at the word obedience, it comes from the Latin root word 'obed' which means 'to listen'. That is KEY because the integrity of the vow flows from 'listening'. One would tend to think that obedience means that you HAVE to listen to SOMEONE else. Not true. The listening always begins with you...listening to your own heart, life experience and soul passions. It begins with YOU!

For example, when we are asked to look at moving to another convent or mission site, we know the ball is in our court. It is ours to take the time for prayer and discernment and see how that move may "fit" me at this time in my life...looking at everything possible, my health, my deepest desire, where I am with my ministry right now, how close do I need to be to my parents (well or ill), is it a big or small community I am moving to, how do I interact with the environment (allergies, etc.), what group of people will I be ministering to, do I need more education to serve their needs, what will my support system look like there, how often have I been moving, etc.

You really 'listen' deep to your heart and mind and be as honest as you with yourself. It always helps to have a spiritual director or close friend to help you discern.

Then you go back to your leadership and let them know what you see for your part. They always appreciate and actually expect your prayer and input. It helps them when making decisions for you in the context of the Congregation, who they are placing at the same time.

Now, I know you are sitting on the million dollar question, what happens when your discernment is different than your leadership? Good question...and of course, it is multi-layered. I will give an example from my own life experience.

When I was in the SF bay area and newly professed, I was teaching and doing campus ministry and really getting burned out. I mentioned it to our leadership, who visit us officially once a year to hear (there's that 'listen' word again) how we are doing on all levels of our life.

I shared that it was too much for me to be new to religious life, with a double whammy ministry and a big community to get used to. They appreciated my honesty (and humility:) and at the end of the year I was moved down to the LA area. I was very happy there and blossomed for two years. UNTIL, I was asked at that point to move up north again and teach high school in the inner city. Dang!

But, I went into discernment, as best as I could, because let's say, right off, I was not for the idea. Yet, it is amazing how the Lord works, when you are at least open (as is the main thing) and things started showing up everywhere...signs that were leading me to believe I needed to go. So when I called back and my leadership asked how I felt, I said well, I really don't want to go but feel if there is a need I will. Well, there was a need and northbound was I! And, off I was!

I want to mention here what is at the heart of our discernment as a community and that is...we are family, a unique family, but a family that impacts each other intimately.

For example, when I was burned out in the north and needed to move, I found out later that sister in the south who had to replace me was very happy where SHE was. Then, when I was south and happy as a lark, I found out later that a sister north needed to go south, because her mom had taken a turn for the worse and she needed to be by her to care for her.

So, what it really turns out to be 'in our family' is that the strong carry the weak. And you never know when its going to be your turn to carry or be carried. I have been blessed to be carried and honored to have carried our sisters. The point of faith is, that you do not know this when you are discerning, because each of sisters personal life is kept confidential (unless the sister would like to share).

So, I think there is enough here to think about. You probably see now why I am emphasizing so much your own discernment NOW, because you will always be responsible to "listen" to your relationship with the Lord and your community (and family, friends, ministry choices, educational growth, etc.)

Please come back on and let me know your thoughts, questions, life experience...I so enjoy our time together here!

Have a great evening! And be open to all that comes your way, it just may be that dot that will make all the difference:) Love ya', your justbebecky

8:33 PM  
Blogger JustBeBecky said...

Hi everyone! Well,I am in Iron River, Michigan (upper peninsula) with my Mom amd Dad who are attending their 65th high school reunion. Yes, 65th!

We had the big dinner tonight and out of 119 graduates there are 47 left! They are an awesome bunch!Oh to be 83 and looking so good!

I am here with my little sis'(8 years younger) and we are having a great time in this small little town, walking, exploring and enjoying this small town feel and pace:) And, you will not believe it, they do have a Curves. You got to love it!

I guess everyone must be out of town for a little bit, so I will wait for some more comments or questions before I add to our vow of obedience conversation. I have more to share but want to wait for your input.

God's special love and grace be yours this night and always, we are on a twenty minute time allowance on the hotel computer!
Love and Peace,
your justbebecky :)
P.S. Have a happy fourth!!
Who likes watermelon?!!

8:32 PM  
Blogger JustBeBecky said...

Great day today! Had our Baumgartner reunion with our upper MIchigan clan, about 100 attending! It is always interesting to meet your ancestors and see the similarities. There is truth to the old gene pool:)

The life here is delightfully slow and everyone so friendly! Shot a game of pool with my Dad and lost to the old shark, hadn't really played since college, but love it!

Well, night comes quick here, so time for a little cross stich and beddie bye. Hope you are having some great summer days, come on by anytime!

Always, your justbebecky:)

7:40 PM  
Blogger stillcurious said...

Happy 4th of July to all! Hi justbebecky thanks for your comments on obedience. I never thought of it as a two sided thing. I was thinking of it as more of a slave/master relationship. I guess that ties in to to my childhood image of God, you know that mean old scary guy just waiting to get me if I made a mistake. When I was in grammar school I remember the nuns (okay sisters, but a few of them should have been nuns!) telling us how being a sister was being God's bride and I would be thinking bride of Frankenstein, no thank you! I'm glad that image of God is gone!! So your on image number 7
(I'm only on number 2) I hope you'll be sharing more details about that journey with us!!

10:46 AM  
Blogger Snow White said...

Hi Justbebecky! I'm 17 and seriously thinking of becoming a nun, but I do have a couple questions. I there any wrong reason for becoming a nun or a sister? Are you allowed it have pets if you become a nun? Thank You!

3:33 PM  
Blogger JustBeBecky said...

Hi stillcurious, good to hear from you! You make me laugh, with your great humor! I do want to apologize for any sisters through your years, that have hurt you in any way, pschologically or otherwise. I know that I cannot change it, but as a group of sisters now, I can ask forgiveness. I think it is important to continue healing on any level we can. I have had my own wounds from religious women in my own upbringing, so I know!

Glad that your vision of God has evolved into a more loving and gentle God who you love serving. That is good! I will offer some of my "Image of God" changes through our conversations along the way.

And I am glad, too, that your idea of obedience has broadened a bit. It is true that the vow of obedience is at its best when two or more people are LISTENING to one another.

Of course, there are times when after everyone has discerned, you still may be asked to serve somewhere you may not think is best for you. But, I do have to say, the Lord comes through in every case if you are open to growth in a new way!

There are so many ways I have grown, because I have agreed to go where I did not think it would work out. It truly is like the "Lord Knows Best".

One example was when I was sent to the inner city and knew nothing about the culture I was ministering to and as I stayed open to the experience I became much more grounded and real in my own spirituality and found out how much I really needed to learn from their honest and "out there" way of being in the world.

I would not trade it now for anything, though then, I would have traded anything NOT to go! I know now that the Lord knew it was exactly what I needed for my next steps in being an AWESOME religious woman!!! How do you like that great self-esteem?(it does help with that,too, when you find out you can do something seemingly so impossible and grow so much:)

And a special welcome to you, Snow White! Your cat is like so sleek cute!:)I am so happy that you feel you want to be a nun or a sister! Do feel free to come anytime and ask your questions, we all like sharing with each other.

Your first question about is there any wrong reasons for becoming a sister or nun, is an awesome question. And the answer is yes there can be wrong reasons and here are a few. Many times before you enter, you can discover a lot of these "wrong" reasons for entering, because you get to talk with the sisters and they can help you sort it all out! :)

It is not a good reason to enter the convent if you are running away from something, like relationships with men (they are half of the population we need to minister to and with:),

or if you enter because you think then you will not have to think for yourself and just let others make all the decisions for you (you need to be very in touch with your feelings and thoughts and desires and dreams, it is your responsibility for your vow of obedience...in a sense you are vowing to listen to your heart for the rest of your life:),

and one more wrong reason could be you want to get out of a "bad situation" and think it will be better in the convent (well, whatever you do not deal with on the "outside" will just follow you into the "inside" of the convent, because that "bad situation" is still inside of YOU and your own mind and heart still need to work through it. Does that help, snow white? It really is a good question! Let me know what you think!

And your second question about can you have pets in the convent? I do think communities deal with this differently, but in ours, we do not have your enter with a pet, as we really feel you need to now depend on your sisters primarily and not your pet. Sometimes, animals can become so safe for us we do not take the risk to grow and reach out to others.

But, I do know that some of our sisters now, have pets such as dogs, cats, fish, hamsters and birds. It is not a lot of our sisters, but the animals just seem to "wander in" somehow and there you go! :) We do believe animals are a wonderful and special gift from our loving God!

Come again, snow white and all of our wonderful friends! This truly is a place where you can be yourself and share what your feel and think:)
With love and joy, your justbebecky

8:21 PM  
Blogger Snow White said...

Thank you very much Justbebecky, you answered my questions perfectly, and it helped me a lot. I have a few more questions but they slipped my mind right now but I will ask them sooner or later. I also enjoy reading everyone elses comments as well as yours. It's nice to hear other peoples oppinions. And I'm sure my cat thanks you for the sweet comment!

1:22 PM  
Blogger JustBeBecky said...

Your welcome, snow white! I am so glad that it helped you. Look forward to your next question. :)

Good day today, went to my mom's birth house and took a picture of all of us on the front porch, even went inside...neat people living there! People are just plain good everywhere! I love it!

God's gentle peace be yours this night! Always, your justbebecky :)

7:51 PM  
Blogger JustBeBecky said...

Great to be back home again, though had a great time in Santa Fe and Michigan with my family. Enjoyed the day with some gardening and harvesting zucchini, tomatoes, green beans, sweet peas and strawberries. It is so good to be close to Mother Earth! She is so good to us:)

Also, still an avid cyclist myself (yes, I even raced in college in the early 70's, I even remember when those spandex bike shorts became popular and affordable), I am enjoying immensely the Tour De France 2005! And of course, I am an Lance Armstrong fan, he indeed impresses me with his will and drive and especially his fight back from cancer. Incredible to me! It is turning out to be a quite a competitive race with stage 9 finished and Lance in third. But, the mountains just begin and that is his forte!

Looking forward to our Congregational Chapter beginning this Thursday. Every five years all our sisters come together to share, pray, learn, renew, celebrate and revision our lives together and see where we can continue to grow as religious women. We have 32 of our sisters from Mexico coming, and one from Germany, too! It is always an exciting, fun and spirit filled time for us all! It runs for two weeks!

Our focus values this year are five fold: Simplicity, Inclusivity, Trust, Creativity and Convivencia! We are also electing our new leadership (Congregational Prioress and five councilors) which will be our spiritual leaders for the next five years. We have been blessed with compassionate and excellent leaders in our Congregation. Stay tuned for our day to day haps! :)

Well, hope all is well with you! Always enjoy hearing from you, please fell free to come on in and ask any question you would like. And Finn, what happened to those dots you were going to share:) Looking forward to your return! With Peace and Prayer for each of you, your justbebecky :)

10:44 PM  
Blogger Finn said...

Gosh, I just sent a message and took too long to click Send, and here's Sis Becky already! Welcome back, home skillet!

Yes, the Dots thing. I still owe ya! Due to some work drama and family drama the past weeks, I haven't been able to write about it. I will though. Mainly because I am scared of you nuns and goodness knows what might happen to me if I don't ;-)

So glad you're back, Becky!

11:18 PM  
Blogger JustBeBecky said...

I have never known "the finn" to be scared of anything much less little ole nuns:) Good to hear from you again, finn, and you catch that dot thing when you can. Know that I am keeping your family and work in prayer through this challenging time for you.

I had a quiet day today. Had three people for direction which are always blessed times, yes, God is good...all the time! :) Then did my Curves thing (and I have only hit 3 states so far, but counting:) which always gets me going a bit!

Then, had a light dinner with the sisters, watered the garden, and took some pictures on my pic phone to send to my brother and Dad, who garden, of our phenomenal corn (over my head, and I am 5'9''), cherry tomatoes (bunches of them), zucchini (10 inch, 3 round diameter) and strawberries, beans and peas all over!

Those phone things are cool, they really can keep you in touch with your family when they are far away. Right now I have a running text going with my niece who is just preparing for her first year in college this fall. It will be a good way to be aunt, mentor, and friend when needed! :)

Hope all is well with all of you, home skillets! I love your sayings, finn, they make me laugh:)
Come on by anytime! Love, justbebecky:)

8:40 PM  
Blogger JustBeBecky said...

Up early this morning and had a wonderful quiet prayer with the Lord! I love to see the first light of the day, such a promise of God's faithful love and goodness. So...I whisper a gentle good morning to all of you who have risen and to those still tucked in warm:)

On a whim, I pulled out some of my old journal pages and felt so much nostaligia and love with our Lord and this is when I thought and prayed for each of YOU very specially, those who have blogged on and those still following us along in a spirit of love:)

I just happened to turn to the journal page when our vocation director came out to visit me and I was all asitr about my future, and what was I going to do, if I became a sister and like I'm not holy enough or worthy or gifted enough to serve God's people and on and on and on and she just looked at me with such wisdom and understanding and lovingly said, "Be not concerned with the impact you can make in the future, but look what is happening now. A very momentous step is about to be taken, You are telling the world, above all else, "I love the Lord." And, that may be your greatest witness that you make your whole life."

Just wanted to leave you with that thought this morning and let the Lord speak within your heart wherever and however you may be about his love this day!
Always in prayer for you, your justbebecky:)

6:21 AM  
Blogger JustBeBecky said...

Hi All! We are beginning our two week Congregational Chapter today! If you would like to follow along go to our special website
http://www.msjchapter2005.org/ for daily updates:)

Come on in and share whenever you like. I am here! With peace, love and joy, your justbebecky:)

11:55 AM  
Blogger Snow White said...

Hi again...I've come with another question. When you recieved the calling to become a sister, what was it like? Did you just feel like you should become a sister one day or were there signs pointing to that life? Thank you!

5:43 PM  
Blogger JustBeBecky said...

Hi snow white! So good to hear from you again! I hope you and Comet are having a great summer:)

Good questions! Let's take a look..."When you received the calling to become a sister, what was it like? Did you just feel like you should become a sister one day or were there signs pointing to that life?"

For me, snow white, it was a case of many signs pointing to my becoming a sister. The first being, when I was in 5th grade the sister pricipal called 5 of us girls to the her office. She then told us that we were "the cream of the crop" and we would all be sisters one day. I went home and asked my mom what "cream of the crop" meant and she told me "to be chosen very specially". (I often wonder what happened to the other four:)

So that was the beginning sign for me, but I did not really think about it too much, until other signs began to appear (in a previous post I have more "sign" stories).

Then when I believed that I did have the gift of religious life...my heart soared!!! And I was so happy...and, now, 28 years later, even happier!!!:)

It is important to note, snow white, that the Lord's call to each of us can be so different and unique! Some of our sisters share how they just knew right away and entered without another hesitation. Others found their call through serving God's people, others a longer process of reading the "signs' in their life or as I said on the outer post, began "connecting the dots" of their lives and saw it led to "giving their all to the Lord" as a sister!

Come again, snow white and let me know what you think! :)
ALways, all are welcome!
Lovingly, your justbebecky:)

5:43 PM

1:54 PM  
Blogger JustBeBecky said...

Whoa! It has just been an awesome day or like finn would say a Cool Beans Day! :) 200 of of our sisters gathered here from the US, Mexico and Germany and having a great time. I love being an international Congregation! Well, we are now in between the barbeque and the line dancing with root beer floats:), so I must be onward! Just wanted to slip in and say "Hi!" :)

Hope all is well with you, all my dear friends, and looking forward to your presence again soon:)
With Love, JOY, and Gratitude, your justbebecky :)

7:33 PM  
Blogger JustBeBecky said...

Our Chapter is moving along GREAT! Today we talked about our new Constitutions that we have been working on for five years. Our Foundress Mother Pia Backes wrote the first one in 1923, then we updated it in 1984 and now we have the new 2005 edition and it is AWESOME! It so reflects who we are as religious women in the 21st century. I do feel so blessed to be here! :)

The five values that run throughout our Constitutions are TRUST, CREATIVITY, SIMPLICITY, INCLUSIVITY AND CONVENVICIA (the ability just "to be" together)! It speaks of how we want to be in the world as a community for peace and justice, care of the earth, the young and the vulnerable, and any new frontiers the Lord may be calling us to in our world today! A lot of hope, love and gratitude going on here!:) Lot of young women thinking about our way of life! God sure is good!

Looking forward to hearing from anyone soon and invite any new bloggers our way:)
Peace out, your justbebecky

8:20 PM  
Blogger Snow White said...

Thank you Justbebecky, you answered my question perfectly again. I have had quite a few signs that seems to be telling me to become a nun. But I'm not 100% sure yet. And yes me and Comet are having a pretty good summer so far. Thank you again!

4:08 PM  
Blogger stillcurious said...

Hi All,
Justbebecky I'm glad to hear your meetings are going so well!
Hey Snow White, would you mind sharing what some of those signs have been? Thanks!

7:05 PM  
Blogger Snow White said...

Most of the signs I got was just random "nun sightings". When I was considering becoming a nun I started seeing nun's almost everywhere. I had seen a nun at Wal-Mart and after I posted something on this very blog I was ready to go to sleep but then on Turner Classic Movies they had "A Nun's Story" with Audrey Hepburn on and then after that it was "The Bells of St. Mary's" another movie about nuns. So those are about all the signs. They could be coincidences but I think that God was trying to get my attention, with signs that I'll notice. Like Justbebecky said "the Lord's call to each of us can be so different and unique!"

3:58 PM  
Blogger JustBeBecky said...

Hi still curious and snow white! Glad to hear you're conversating! (new word:) You are right those signs are EVERYWHERE if we just "stop ,look and listen" here and there. It is like God is talking to us all day long in OUR own unique language.

I love how God knows that it is hard to understand his language so he learns ours, which often comes through our particular interests, desires, maybe nature, or a song or TV show or movie, or someone's smile or words,or a good novel (one of our sisters claims God speaks to her often through novels:),etc.

Our God is so good, he knows what we like and what will get our attention. He so wants to communicate with us, especially his abundant and unconditional love for us!

Here's a thought for all of us, how do YOU communicate your love to God? And how do you feel God communicates love to you? I think I will start a new post with this question, so answer there if you can! God's wonderful peace and and love be with you, your justbebecky:)

1:50 PM  
Blogger begrateful said...

Good Evening Still Curious, Snowwhite, Carpediem,Justbecky and Finn. I just had some time to check out our site and read what you all had to share and it really got my attention.
Regarding our vows Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience I really don't see them as something I have to keep and if I break them I will be in trouble. For me the three vows are a self awareness of how I live my life. Some are harder than others at different times and sometimes they are all easy and then other times I think what am I doing? I would love to go dancing and have a glass of wine and hang out all night and meet the love of my life, but then I think back to before I ever entered religious life; I had responsibilities as a real estate manager and didn't stay out all night partying. When I was lonely I didn't just go to bed with the first person I met, and when I wanted to buy a new car I decided not and to opt for a second hand one.
Maybe these dots were being connected earlier on for me and preparing me for religious life and our three vows.
I have always found in my life when I don't give into my obsessions and stand back and go without I feel so much better the next day and it brings me to a deeper place in myself and with God. (Don't get me wrong it ain't easy) I have also been told it doesn't get any easier. As you know I have only been in religious life five years and have alot to learn and alot of growing to do but one thing I know,I am open and like everything else in life there will be good days and bad days.
Now if someone came into my life that really stole my heart I would deal with it as it happens and leave the rest up to God, what more can one do? I truly believe from my own personal experiences that God knows exactly who to put in our lives at the right time. However we need to be able to discern is it God or my own will.. Let me know what you all think?
your's
begrateful

8:19 PM  
Blogger begrateful said...

Good morning everyone today is Aug 8th the feast of St Dominic and I got the day off yipee yahooo!
Went for a wonderful bike ride and stopped into Newman Center in Berkeley for Mass and it was so peaceful. I ran into someone I knew, Fr Al, who celebrated Mass, what a dear man 82 years old and so compassionate and vibrant.
Then of course I stopped off at Pete's and had a late and bagel.
Just got back now and thought I would see if anyone had checked in on our site. So if there's anyone out there that wants to share their 8th Aug day with us we would love to hear from you.
Your's
begrateful

2:10 PM  

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