To the delight of some and the horror of others, North American women religious in the 21st century are a rather diverse lot. The ongoing conversation, “Where are all the young sisters?” has me wanting to open another can of worms.
It seems to me that one of the most divisive issues among sisters I know, my congregation included, is that of sisters choosing to live singly or in twos rather than in larger groups. It is also my perception that whenever this topic comes up at a meeting we never seem to get beyond judgment and defensiveness.
I’m wondering if this blog might not be a forum for a respectful sharing about why this diversity in living situations causes such consternation. Perhaps some of you who live singly or in twos could share what that’s like for you, what about it gives you life, etc. And perhaps some of you who live in larger groups could share their experiences of that. And let’s share honest questions, by all means. But please, please please…the way you ask a question makes all the difference.
For example, if I ask someone, “How can you say you are living community when you live alone?”, it is clear that I have put a value judgment on another’s choice before she has even had a chance to respond. If I’m really curious about another’s choice and can suspend judgment to really listen to her, I could simply ask her what “living community” means to her and how it plays out in her life.
So let’s see if we can come to a greater level of mutual respect for the different ways we have of living our commitment to God in religious life. If you are not in a community, you are welcome to share your own questions and perceptions…again, respect is paramount – these are people’s lives we are talking about.
Let’s keep talking…