03 September 2018

On Birthdays and Anniversaries: Looking Back in order to Look Ahead

This holiday weekend Saturday and Sunday were days of special celebration for me. The 1st was my birthday and the 2nd of September was the 11th anniversary of my perpetual profession as a diocesan hermit. (I have lived as a hermit for 33 years and as a religious for more than 45 years but these last 11 years have been especially blessed with a new kind of fruitfulness. God has been very gracious to me.)

Each year I look back to see where I have been and where I have come to, and that has been especially true in these 2+ years I have been doing the more intense inner work with Sister Marietta. During these years I have come to see the way God has accompanied me throughout my entire life to create the heart of a hermit --- as I have written here before! Throughout this year Marietta has been present to and for me in ways which have been profoundly formative for me personally and thus too, for my vocation; I expect to continue growing into it, understanding it more deeply and representing it more authentically of course, but the linkage between inner work and ongoing formation becomes more striking all the time and I am extraordinarily grateful to Marietta for her assistance and accompaniment in this. The importance of the solitary eremitical vocation as a call to personal wholeness in the midst of a world which pulls toward fragmentation, isolation, and inauthenticity cannot be overstated, I think. This year's personal work has freshly underscored the truth of this and I look forward to seeing what writing, thinking, praying and other service to God and God's People it will lead to.

One particularly important experience I have had this past year is the opportunity to work with a cloistered nun exploring the possibility of becoming a canonical hermit in some way. Over time she has transitioned in many of the various significant ways needed when a cloistered nun desires and begins, for instance, to become a diocesan hermit. It has been a joy to follow her progress in this vocation and I sincerely hope we will continue in this way well into the future! I want to say here how grateful I am for her trust, her openness, her humility, humor, and her courage throughout this past year and more! She has been a great gift to me and on a day I reflect both on new life and the commitment and gift of my own consecration under c 603, she is one of those I look to for inspiration and in gratitude to the Holy Spirit --- a fellow traveler along the solitary eremitical path and perhaps too under c 603.

Several years ago my pastor used the following blessing at the end of Mass on this same anniversary day:

O Lord, Holy Father, graciously confirm the resolve of your servant, Laurel, and grant that the grace of baptism, which she desires to be strengthened by the bonds of her religious profession, may produce in her their full effect so that she may render due worship to your majesty and spread with apostolic zeal the Kingdom of Christ
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. 

This was my prayer this weekend rooted in my experience that God has worked hard to confirm all this in me during this last year and done so especially through the various agencies and persons mentioned above: my pastor John, OSFS, and parish (who continue to trust (and challenge) me to do services and offer reflections each week), my director and co-delegate (Sisters Marietta, SHF and Susan, OSF), my clients, and of course, my Sisters and friends who share about prayer, theology, and music and their excitement about the ways God works in our lives.