In the fall, many Sisters are in periods of transition, whether it be through ministries, school, moving locations or making vows. This is a constant gift and challenge in the lives of Sisters. Core Team member Jessi Beck asked our Giving Voice network to provide bits of advice, wisdom and stories from what Sisters have learned during times of transition.
“Moving and transitioning is such a part of life as a religious sister that it's helpful to find the constants. I've found comfort in routine despite how much I rebelled against it at first. The rhythm of our prayer life and community reminds me that I have protected time and space to unwind, seek refuge and to just be. That's a huge piece of settling for me; it gives me inner peace and helps me to be relaxed in my new environment, whether that a place or a situation. I like to get a quick tour of the neighbourhood and see the action on the ground. Especially when building a sense of home, I feel most comfortable when I know the local area. It can take weeks, if not months, but taking those first steps out the door are huge. Just venture out and get lost too! You'll be surprised how quickly you'll learn the route when you get lost.
I find it very challenging to not have a sounding board or an "anchor". I mean someone who is journeying with me, to listen and to share the experience, and be present even when they have no advice. It is more exhausting to experience a transition alone. That isolation from people or reality can trap us into thinking it is worse than it probably is.
I've been fortunate to have many sisters in community, not just the local community, who are able and willing to listen, to pray and to be a sister for their sister in Christ. I hope everyone in the most difficult transition can find a person, who becomes God's instrument in hearing His voice, saying "everything will be fine". And eventually, it will be.” -Sr. Clara Mahilia Roache, ASCJ
“When I am in transition, I find it so helpful to talk through it with a trusted friend or mentor. Not only in the weeks and days leading up to the transition, but also once I begun to live into it. Whether it’s a entering a new stage of formation, a change in ministry, or a new living community, having someone there to share the joys and challenges helps me gain perspective and assures me that I am not alone. Additionally, during my prayer in times of change, I will meditate on the many times Jesus was in transition. From leaving his family home to begin his public ministry to traveling about the countryside preaching, teaching, and healing, Jesus stayed close to God and to his disciples, and modeled how to navigate a life filled with transition. He is a great example for women religious who are always on the move!” -Jane Aseltyne, IHM
“What helps me? I try to acknowledge my feelings and bring them to God. When I'm grieving for what I've let go of, I try and enter in and grieve well. There's no way through grief but through it, and recognizing grief is very helpful. When I feel rocked by the changes, like I'm spinning feet over hands, I pray standing with my feet planted to remind myself that even when the ground shifts, I'm still rooted in God. I also set up my space, either my bedroom or my office, in a way that brings comfort, so that something can be familiar when things are changing. And I complain and cry and write in my journal until things seem normal again.
What are the gifts: Times of change bring growth, and they show me my resilience. And when I don't feel resilient, they remind me that I am deeply vulnerable and need God. Times of change help me to surrender and to trust God.
Another helpful thing to do during times of change is to look back over other transitions that I've faced and come through. From the other side of change, I can see how God was with me and how things eventually settled into a new normal. Until the next change. I find that perspective to be reassuring.” - Leslie Keener, CDP
“While many of my sisters have expressed feeling uncomfortable with the amount of uncertainty involved in transition, it’s this very uncertainty that comforts me. It’s knowing that nothing is “set in stone”, or that there is no specific outcome I must obtain, which makes me feel more able to move with God’s free-flowing Spirit. I feel less concerned about obtaining a specific goal, and more enticed by the amount of prayer needed to listen to God’s still small voice. After an invitation to prayer, the uncertainty of constant transition calls forth something else in me: creativity. To listen in prayer and to bring forth life as a co-creator, these are the reasons why I see constant transition as a blessing and an invitation, not only for myself, but also for my community and religious life as a whole.” -Desiré Anne-Marie Findlay, CSSF
“When it comes to transitions, it is important for me to check myself because I have a tendency to try and control things which only leads to being overwhelmed. It helps me to stay rooted in prayer so that I can allow the Holy Spirit to work with me and I have to remember to rely on that.
Also, as a Sister of Divine Providence, I'm called to witness the power of Providence moving among our lives. I have actually experienced a lot of transitions in my life prior to entering Religious Life and I am confident that it Providentially has prepared me for this life which will continue to bring about transitions.” -Christina Chávez, CDP
Prayer for Transition:
Thou hast made me known to friends whom I knew not. Thou hast given me seats in homes not my own. Thou hast brought the distant near and made a brother of the stranger. I am uneasy at heart when I have to leave my accustomed shelter; I forgot that there abides the old in the new, and that there also thou abidest.
Through birth and death, in this world or in others, wherever thou leadest me it is thou, the same, the one companion of my endless life who ever linkest my heart with bonds of joy to the unfamiliar. When one knows thee, then alien there is none, then no door is shut. Oh, grant me my prayer that I may never lose the bliss of the touch of the One in the play of the many. - Rabindranath Tagore