A beloved sister of mine wrote this prayer for a special community meeting a few years ago:
It is Blessing
It is Blessing
It is ALL Blessing
It is Gift
It is ALL Gift
Do Not Be Afraid
Lay claim to it
Lay claim to All of it
All of it
All of it
ALL OF IT!
~Sister Jean Iadevito, CSJ
“What?!? All of IT? It is All Gift? If you say so God. But I’m finding that hard to believe.” This response or something like it would have probably been my reaction to this prayer pre-entrance to my community of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. In my personal experience community is the place where I have learned to embrace the whole or all of it. It’s a place to share deeply and build trust. It’s a place to recognize imperfections and face them with humility and truth. It’s a place to be truly humbled, not in a despairing way, but with love and care which brings about growth. It’s a place where there is hurting because there is so much love; but you continue to love and be vulnerable with the other anyway.
In my experience community brings great joy and love, sadness and heartache, anger and happiness into life. Yes, the reality is sometimes it’s like “Community! Woohoo!” and other times it’s like “Ugh community!” Learning to embrace all of it has been quite the lesson to learn in life. It’s a part of commitment. I didn’t commit to only the things I like or want, I committed to all of it.
Personally and communally there is always room for growth in some aspect. I think there is a staying power in my community and others because we are able to embrace all of it. We rely on God and each other to get through all of it. We learn from our mistakes, we move on, we continue to love and forgive and do it all again. It’s a cycle of life.
One of the best pieces of advice I received when I began looking at different religious communities was that ‘there is no perfect community.’ It freed up the process for me because I had some preconceived notion or idea in the back of my mind that sisters and women’s communities were all ‘holy and perfect’ and in some ways that I had to be too in order to join. Well that is not the case-Thank God!
It is about being willing and open to live into the possibilities. It’s about being able to fully embrace myself and being able to authentically share myself with others. It’s about embracing the mystery because as humans we never will fully understand the Divine nor will we ever have all the answers. It’s about acceptance and love.
I invite you to think about what community means to you, to find a community to be a part of whether formal or informal if you have not already done so, and to embrace all of it in the process! Let’s create or co-create communities of embracement!
Peace and Blessings ~Sister Clare