As you know, I made a major move on September 3. I went from a convent with two other sisters to Notre Dame Education Center where about 171 sisters live. Although I kept the same zip code, just about everything else in my life changed.
In my August 10th post, I wrote about leaving our house on North Street. Today I will share a few thoughts on coming to my new home on Auburn Road. Some of these thoughts are from my journal. They’re a little disjointed, but taken as a whole, I think they give a glimpse into the spirituality of coming.
Coming… When you move to a new place, you don’t come all at once. You come in parts, in pieces. Even when you and all your things are finally here in your new place, you yourself are not completely here. Coming is a process. It takes time.
Day #2: I feel as if I’m peeling off a bandage… a BIG one… and, in a few places, it’s affixed with superglue…
My new community… My new community (my “neighborhood”) consists of 62 sisters. They are by far the best part of my move. I already know most of them, some quite well. They couldn’t be more warm or welcoming. As I glance around the dining room, I think: Each of us has done the hard work of “letting go” of some place, or something—often a very active life, a fulfilling ministry, good health, total independence. Some here have served as teachers, principals, nurses, secretaries, dieticians, finance personnel, pastoral ministers, musicians, spiritual directors, formation ministers, hospice chaplains, writers, board members, congregational or diocesan leaders, and more. Some are still in part-time ministry. I feel privileged to be in this good company.
Unpacking, sorting, deciding… The first few days, all I was doing was unpacking, rearranging the furniture in my bedroom and my office, and deciding where things should go. Making decisions is not only time consuming, it is energy consuming. No wonder I was exhausted. One day, I couldn’t find my purse. I knew I put it in a safe place—safe (evidently) even from myself! After looking in just about every cupboard and drawer in my bedroom, I finally found it!
Arranging life or living life…After a few days I wrote in my journal: “Should I spend more time sorting my life, or living my life… arranging my life, or living my life… cleaning my life, or living my life… reflecting on my life, or living my life?”
Signs… charts… forms… The more people living together, the more signs there are. I guess it has to be. There are signs in the shower room, the laundry, the elevator, and (of course) the bulletin board. There are charts too where you can sign up to use the laundry, to help serve the beverages at meals, or to join a Wii golf or bowling team. Forms abound too. Whether to request food for guests, a hair appointment, or help hanging your pictures, the procedure is the same: there’s a form for that.
Challenges and delights… Some challenges are: Cellphone reception is not always good in some parts of this building, I don’t care for the coffee, there’s a lot of togetherness, and there are (most challenging of all) serious restrictions due to Covid-19. I will have to find creative ways to get the solitude I crave and need. The delights are many and include: nice hot water in the shower, a good variety of food, two serving times for lunch and supper, lots of activities to choose from, a helpful and pleasant staff, and the frequent sound of laughter.
Anxiety… I find myself anxious… about many things… some known and named… others still inexpressible… I take my anxiety to prayer.
Pronouns… I still find myself saying things like, “Where do YOU get tissue?… Where do YOU empty trash?… How do YOU mail something?” Those pronouns reveal I am still a visitor here. But every now and then I use the pronoun WE: “We certainly have a friendly staff here… WE have a lovely view from OUR dining room, don’t WE?… I love all the fresh fruit they serve US here.”
Miscellaneous thoughts: Throughout my move, friends kept checking up on me to see how I was doing. I felt cared for, remembered, tended to… Too much fear in life negates living… A friend called and said, “It must be nice not to have to go grocery shopping or cook your meals.” She assumed this was a plus for me. But for now, it’s more of a minus… Liking my new home in no way diminishes my love for my former home… Patience… patience… patience.
Did anything stand out for your in today’s reflection? If so, what and why?
Did anything here resonate with your experience–or contradict your experience?
Do you ever experience the longing to “go home” even when you are already at home? If so, what do you do with this longing?
Scripture tells us we are all on a journey, a journey that takes us home… Our video today is from Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony #9 also entitled “From the New World.” He wrote this after arriving in America in 1893. It is the second movement that took on a life of its own. Critics say its haunting melody reflects his own Czech background as well as the new music he encountered in the U.S. namely, Negro spirituals and Native American music. After his death, one of his students, William Arms Fisher, put words to this movement which he called “Goin’ Home.” It has been recorded by many singers. Here it is sung by Libera, a boys’ choir in England. (Postscript: As many of you know, I am of Czech heritage. One of my ancestors [I believe a great-grandmother] was a Dvorak. I like to think that Antonin may be my 4th cousin twice removed… or something like that.)
May this song bring you peace…
I welcome you to respond to this reflection, video, or one another.