relationship - Related Content

Jesus under wraps

Thursday, July 14th 2016 10:11 am
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

Jesus-wrapped-plastic

Sacred Heart of Jesus statue "under wraps"

St. Rose Convent is undergoing minor renovations: new carpet installation is underway and some of the walls are soaking up fresh coats of paint. Walking down the hall to my office one day I noticed our large statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was covered in protective plastic wrap as painters prepped the surrounding stairwell.

To see the statue sheathed, covered up, prompted me to discern the question “When do I freely share about my relationship with Jesus and when do I protect it—keep it under wraps?  

It’s easy to share about my relationship with Jesus and my faith when I am with others who have similar views; when I feel engaging in that conversation is safe. Yet the call of the Gospel is challenging as it beckons us to the next-step of discussion; requires each of us to live boldly our faith. 

Is your relationship with Jesus and your discernment journey under wraps?

What would happen if your belief in Jesus was unbound?  

Would your life be different? 

How will you uncover it? 

Impart it to others?

 

Surrendering to the task at hand

Thursday, October 13th 2016 12:00 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

to-do-pen-paper

Photo courtesy of freeimages.com

Quick: think of five tasks you have been putting off over the past month. What else comes to mind? 

Dread?

Wasted time?

Boredom?

Maybe even fear?

These thoughts can be overwhelming and you might even spend more energy avoiding the chore–compounding the stress—than you would if you just got it done.


God helps us to see inside the possibilities life can offer if you take that first stepeven if it feels like the biggest risk of your life.

Our spiritual lives can also be porous with procrastination. That invitation you received from God to deepen relationship, discern a vocation or consider a new ministry opportunity? Is it buried under the pile of bills you have to pay? Is it where anxiety—trepidation of change that holds one back from even thinking about possibilities much less taking an actual step—can also be found? It can lead to worry about failing: I'm not the right person for the call ... I'm not good enough ... I don't have the courage or skills necessary for what might come next. 

One of my favorite prophets, Jeremiah, had what he thought was an answer to God’s call (and plenty of reasons why the time wasn’t right and how he just wasn’t cut out for it anyway). Yet he could no longer put off the decision nor deny it. We hear in his story (Jeremiah 1:1-9) how excuses don’t work for God. God helps us to see inside the possibilities life can offer if you take the first step—even if it feels like the biggest risk of your life.

Have you invited God into the task you’re putting off?

Are you procrastinating in the discernment of vocation, afraid to take that next step?

 

Unplugged

Thursday, September 22nd 2016 3:10 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 


ear-buds-freeimges.com

Image courtesy of freeimages.com

When was the last time you sat in silence?

Unplugged?

Where were you? In the woods, in a church or perhaps in your living room? Daily, we are encouraged to plug into everything around us so we don’t miss anything. Ironically, we are missing out because of plugging in. A common sight on college campuses is a group of friends, sitting together yet busy texting others and ignoring the people around them. Professors have no texting policies to get students to pay attention to the lectures taking place right in front of them. Many parishes announce before worship begins to silence cell phones. We live in a time in history that is running from silence. When we plug in, are we silencing God? 

I love to pray with music (from classical to contemporary Catholic) and I know I also need silence to hear the inner stirrings of my heart. Music can be both a pathway to prayer and, when I use it to avoid silence and contemplation, a roadblock. Silence brings a second gift of stillness that is not present when I am immersed in the melody of my favorite tunes.

Creating intentional time for silence and stillness becomes a gateway for contemplation. It takes commitment and energy to allow stillness to seep in. Seeking silence requires moving past fidgeting body movements, racing thoughts about work and family and even letting go of the background noises of ticking clocks and air whooshing through vents.

Investing time in relationship with God without expectation of immediate results is countercultural. A relationship based on devotion of time can transform you from a consumer of prayer, only as needed, to a companion—from passive to active in your eternal relationship. Silence may help you hear a deeper answer rather than provide a quick fix. I want answers to my prayers and requests fast and as I continue to learn sometimes the waiting, even when painful and stressful, eventually opens me to a deeper level of trust in my relationship with God.

In reflecting on silence and stillness the Gospel of Matthew 7:13-14 came to my heart. It is the teaching about the narrow gate. I remember learning in my graduate theology courses that Gospel stories are living stories. They serve as timeless portals and allow each of us to continue to learn even thousands of years after they were written. These verses in Matthew remind us how to make daily choices that lead us to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Biblical scholars and homilists have helped shape my understanding of such a profound passage. Each time I hear this piece of Scripture I am in a different part of my life journey and something new is revealed.

Today, I am sitting with the core of Jesus’s message. The narrow way is not the easy way. Unplugging in our American culture takes courage. Perhaps in this context of reflection taking the earbuds out of our ear canals—narrow gateways—will allow God’s call to pass through. Seeking silence and stillness to widen the narrow gateways of your discernment makes room to spread out, to sink deeper into your heart. Choosing to make time in your busy life to unplug the phones, mobile devices and other distractions will help you to plug into God.

How do you create time of silence and stillness?

Are you willing to plug into God and listen for guidance in your discernment? 

Will you risk moving through the narrow gateways of your ears and heart?

Discovering a Growing Edge While Walking in Cochabamba

Sunday, January 30th 2022 4:30 pm

When I first joined religious life, I remember hearing the term growing edges, referring to where in my life there were opportunities for growth. I couldn’t help but think of a climbing plant continuing to fill in on the edges to grow bigger and more expansive. 

I sometimes have a hard time noticing my growth and change. Once growth happens, it becomes a part of me. It might be a better to say that my growth becomes integrated. So maybe for me it’s more like a forest. Given the opportunity, it spreads out with more and more trees on its edges in slow, less perceptible ways. 

Photo credit: Pixabay

Since I have been able to go back to language school, post COVID isolation, I have enjoyed walking to school. It is a joy to be outside in the open air. I get to look at all the activity going on in the city, see people walking, talking, eating and working. I get to enjoy the beautiful gardens and, of course, check out the different birds in the area. There’s actually a part of my walk that goes along a channel and is just FILLED with birds. Most times, I just hear them but sometimes one pops up for me to see. I don’t have my camera along as I walk to school so you’ll just have to take my word for it! But I digress…

 

 

 


 

Photo: This garden on my walk to school was being weeded by a woman (by hand) the first time I walked by and is now beautiful.

A growing edge I have become aware of this week has become apparent on my walks. First, it’s important to understand that outside of the people I interact with at school, I rarely see someone that shares my skin tone. To give you an idea, I have been here for 3 weeks and I have seen 3 people outside of the school that share my complexion. 

In my mind, I know that it doesn’t matter. Everyone I have had personal contact with has been so full of kindness and hospitality and even with the language barrier, they go out of their way to make me feel welcome. And yet…

Photo: Rain gathering in the mountains.

And yet, as I am walking down the street and pass someone by, many times they don’t make eye contact. For a moment, I wonder if maybe they don’t want to interact with me. Is it because I am different? Sometimes someone does make eye contact and I say Buenos Dias, but they say nothing back. I wonder then if I am doing something wrong because I am not from around here. At a bus stop, as I walk by a couple people sitting and waiting for the bus I say, Buenos Dias, and I can’t be sure, but it seems like an older woman looks me up and down before looking away. I wonder if it’s because of my skin tone, maybe she doesn’t like people that look like me. Maybe I shouldn’t have said hello. I am the outsider in this place. Who am I to think that people should be nice to me?

I live in this mind space for a short time wondering about my place in this country that is not my own, in this place where I am different. This place where I don’t fit in. This place where I am an outsider. 

In time, I consider my thinking more deeply. I remember that in the United States, where I am the majority and my skin tone affords me unwarranted privilege, that people don’t make eye contact with me, people don’t say hi back and that sometimes people give me looks I don’t understand. I remember that no matter where I am, there are people who have bad days, who are tired. There are even more in their own thoughts and not noticing the people they meet. In big cities I’ve lived in, it’s rare that people make eye contact or say hello.

Then I decide to stop and look around. I resolve to try to see the similarities I have with the people around me, and not make assumptions about them. I resolve to stop projecting my thoughts on other people. I continue walking.

Yesterday, I was heading back home and it was raining, so I hailed a crowded bus (that’s how it works here – pretty cool!) and jumped on, paying my 1,50 bolivianos, the equivalent of about 50 cents US. As I hopped up the stairs, a young woman left her seat and moved to the back so I would have a place to sit. I was grateful for the kindness. As we drove through some water that was tumbling down the road, the splashes were pretty spectacular. The older woman I was sitting with and I both said “wow!” in unison as we went through a particularly large puddle. The doors of the bus are always left open and we were in a really good spot to see it. We laughed and although she said something I couldn’t understand, I knew we shared a moment of connection.

Photo: The buses in Bolivia are brightly colored, they look happy to me!

That’s my growing edge to work on. I will no doubt have more experiences of otherness in my time here. And yet, I know that I am called to find connection and relationship, not difference. And so, I will continue to do just that because that’s one of the ways I know how to share my love.

Buenas tardes mis amigos!

Photo: Even the insides of the buses here have colorful decorations. I really like them!

Sister Lucy Ann: expression of my time with Jesus

Tuesday, September 19th 2017 10:00 am
Sister Lucy Ann Meyer, FSPA

 

Prayer is the personal expression of my time with Jesus. I have found through the years that I move in and out of various expressions/activities that nurture my relationship with God. Scripture, music and movement remain my steady and usual practices. 

dancers-shadows

In recent years, poetry has taken on greater significance and challenged me at a more basic level. I have experienced deep and profound insights about “who” I am and “how” to live more fully into the mysteries of life. This poem by Hafiz, “Know the True Nature," reminds me of being surrounded in God’s love and the importance of forgiveness: 

Know the True Nature of your Beloved.

In 

His loving eyes

your every thought, word, and movement

is always, always, 

beautiful.

 

Franciscan Way is a series featuring prayerful reflection by Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.

 

Photo of the Week - Week 16

Thursday, April 28th 2022 8:58 am

Look who came to the convent for a visit! Can you believe it? It was late in the afternoon on Monday and all of a sudden, everyone was talking excitedly and someone told me to get my camera. I couldn't believe it when out of the church came this totally adorable, young, three-toed sloth! I snapped photos and took a quick video (which you can see here if you are interested) and the sloth continued on the adventure of a lifetime (I am sure) being relocated to a more suitable spot. My first thought was the sloth was actually IN the church but after a few questions, I learned that "Iglesia" refers to the whole parish property. It's still too busy of a place here in the pueblo for this little one so I am glad people pitched in to help.

I also saw a friendly Brown Agouti who I was planning on including in the photo of the week but there's something about the adorableness of a sloth that wins out every time! The Agouti is a subspecies specific to this area. If you are interested, I have a short video here!

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Encuentro in Cooking - Lessons in Life

Sunday, March 6th 2022 1:17 pm

This week, I have noticed the dance that difficulties and love play here. In the struggle of living in really difficult situations, mothers and grandmothers still make jokes and laugh while they work. A young mother who feeds her baby before herself smiles broadly when she is told how beautiful her baby is. I realize I have a choice, too. It’s possible for me to focus only on the struggle or only on the love. I am deciding to honor them both and see the harmony in the totality of the reality here. 

Now that carnaval has ended, Sister Yanira and I are back to our ministry at the nutrition clinic. On Thursday, we made plans to return to a large family we had previously visited to demonstrate how to use soybeans. Called soya here, soybeans are included in what people receive from the clinic. Sister Yanira packed up some educational materials about hygiene in addition to two cups of soybeans that had been soaked overnight, bread crumbs, some oil, vanilla, cinnamon and a blender. We also stopped at the market, an open-air area that has booths filled with all different types of food. We picked up carrots, onions, garlic, a pepper, a couple tomatoes, flour and some eggs.

When we arrived at the house, a bunch of the kids greeted us with big smiles and lots of laughter. The first time we came, they were shy and unsure, but they must have decided that we were safe because they were so happy to see us. A table was moved, a bench placed in front and the youngest children quickly sat down, ready to learn. We were joined by older siblings, some to greet us and do other things, others stay and help with the children, preparations and cooking. The grandmother and the two mothers got things ready for our time together, cleaning everything we planned to use.

Sister Yanira gave the beans to one of the women to cook for some time on the stove in their kitchen. As Sister Yanira worked, she would show the process and then pass it on to one of the women. I appreciated that. It wasn’t a demonstration. It was a social time, where we talked, laughed and enjoyed each other’s company while we worked together. A couple more moms and children appeared, interested in learning what was happening and joining in the work. 

At some point, the kids lost interest and left to play in the yard as we worked. Dogs and chickens lingered nearby ready to pick up whatever we might drop. All the work was done in the center of the yard. There were multiple buildings surrounding us, all made with the repurposed wood, metal roofs and dirt floors. There was a small building for a living area, another for a kitchen and an outhouse toward the back of the yard. The yard contained some trees for shade and/or fruit. There was no grass, only packed dirt. 

We were working with two cups of soybeans. It was incredible what we were able to produce with those two cups. The process took about 2 hours, but was well worth it! We ended up with 4 liters of soy milk and 30 or so small soy burgers. We all washed up when it was time to eat. The prepared food was shared with everyone. I sat with the younger children and loved watching them enjoy the food. both the burgers and the soy milk were delicious - Mi gusta!!!

If you are interested in the recipes to try yourself, click on the little image to the right to view them. Warning! They're in Spanish, but you can use Google to figure out the words you don't know. That's what I did!

Click on the images below to see videos from the day. I had a great time and I think it's clear, the food was a hit!

On Friday, a young mother came in with Elsa, a beautiful baby girl. The mom was so skinny, we worried for her. Elsa was a happy little baby though, and her mom let me take a photo with her. I thanked her for the photo, and felt gratitude for her good care – as well as gratitude that the clinic will help make sure Elsa has what she needs each month.

P.S. For the sisters at St. Rose who have been praying for Carlita and her family, thank you! She is doing better, and is in the hospital in Santa Cruz where she needs to be. For those who have time for an extra prayer, she is a 15 year old girl who has Leukemia. Her family has many struggles including extreme poverty and a bed-ridden grandma. Your prayers are just what they need right now. Muchas gracias!

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Photo of the Week - Week 11

Thursday, March 24th 2022 1:44 pm

This week's photo is from the convent in San Miguel where I spent some time last week. I have seen different art like this here in Bolivia, but the imagery in this one struck me more than the others. This type of art serves as a reminder of the history of the place. In here you see Jesus front and center surrounded by indigenous people, priests, workers, poor children and freed slaves. Behind it you can see some of the historical events that happened like the arrival of the Spanish, military oppression and protests. I don't know the specific historical stories depicted in this painting, but it moves me. It reminds me of the history we are exploring anew in the United States connected to historical trauma and systemic racism (and other "isms") and I wonder what art is being created back in the states that will tell the story of our history. It will be good to see the images the future brings.

I realized that it is difficult to see all the detail in this photo so I have made the original available here for anyone interested. 

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Tuning in to God, discernment

Thursday, September 21st 2017 2:30 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA

 

Often when I am looking for inspiration in my writing, I go to places that feed my soul. Recently, I was sitting in the back row of our adoration chapel, pondering what to share in my next blog, while the piano in the main chapel was being tuned. My thoughts were punctuated with the same note sounding over and over again. I could hear slight adjustments with each stroke of the key. Occasionally, a scale would plunk out. 

piano-tuning

The piano in Mary of the Angels Chapel undergoes the tuning process.

Curious, I went to investigate and had a short conversation with the man tuning the piano. I asked him a few questions about the process and was fascinated to learn that he begins by striking a tuning fork. He then plays one note on the piano, listening as he adjusts the tension on the piano wire to match the pitch, then tunes the entire piano by ear. He listens not only to the single pitch but also how it sounds in relationship all the other pitches too. He shared how the environment around the piano, like climate and season, also effects the process. There is never a perfect time to tune. 

This resounding experience inspired me to ponder how discernment has similar elements. We are all influenced not only by our own gifts and talents but also where we find resonance with others. Often in discerning religious life, questions arise like “How will I know which congregation is best for me?” or “What if the congregations I’m interested in minister in similar ways?” 

These are great questions. Even when connecting to congregations with like-minded missions, there are steps to take to learn more. Ask any of your friends or family members how they chose significant others.  A list of characteristics does not tell the whole story. Two people could have the same job, live in the same city, look similar physically and enjoy the same hobbies, but there are thousands of idiosyncrasies that define differences when you get to know them more deeply. Sometimes there is more mystery than explanation but, at some level, these couples have found compatibility with one another.   

It was the same way for me when I was exploring discernment. Each community carried individual tones and music of life. From all the possibilities, it took time to learn about the differences between apostolic, evangelical, monastic, cloistered and missionary congregations for women, not to mention the different rules of life each follows (like Franciscan, Dominican, Benedictine). Then throw in ministries similar, if not the same. 

And so I visited different congregations, finding similarities and also distinctions. Some congregations I liked and others I was ready to leave almost as soon as I arrived; not because the congregation was unpleasant but because my gut instinct let me know immediately that our views of the world were too polar opposite. 

There was a combination of factors as to why I chose to be a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration. The more time I spent with FSPA I found that my goals, philosophies and beliefs coincided with many of theirs, and the viewpoints that didn’t exactly align invited more exploration as to why or why not. FSPA engaged both my mind and heart.  Although it was a mystery as to why a congregation several states away resonated more with me than those near to where I lived, I had to undertake my own pilgrimage of discernment. 

It reminds me of Abraham, having to make a journey to find his own home as he does in Genesis 12. God called him to leave the land that he knew and as he traveled he learned more about who he was. St. Francis of Assisi, our congregation’s founding inspiration, had to learn about his own journey of faith by first pursuing glory and honor through seeking knighthood but, along the way, learning his true call was to rebuild the church and be a champion for peace. It took both Abraham and St. Francis their lifetimes to live into the depth of their call from God. But they also had to take a step towards their calling and learn as they went. 

I can say that what first attracted me to my congregation is still present but what means more to me is the relationships I’ve been blessed with; the deepening of my own spiritual life, the ministry experiences that I never would have planned and the excitement that each new day brings. It was both exhilarating and daunting to take initiative that first visit but had I not my life would not be what it is — a completely, always surprising gift — today. 

This week a few question for you to ponder …

In what ways are you discovering that your discernment is not a simple, quick decision but a pilgrimage? 

How do you know when you resonate with someone or something?

*Do you know someone experiencing discernment of religious life? We invite you to share this link, www.fspa.org/showmeasign, and join the conversation. 


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