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Vows as a Container for Life

Author: 
Jessi Beck, PBVM

August 2016 is the one-year anniversary of my profession of final vows, my first “vow-iversary” one might say! This month I also attended the LCWR Assembly as a representative for Giving Voice along with fellow Core Team member, Chero Chuma, CSJP. Margaret Wheatley set the stage with the opening talk entitled, “Finding Ground in the Age of Groundlessness.” She closed her remarks with some profound insights into the significance of vows. She believes vows “do not give the hope of results” rather “when we live a vowed life we have set an intention, a direction, and a container that holds our work and now matter what is happening we know why we’re here. And that’s the power of vows.”

As I think of my own profession of vows, I stand in awe at the way God has worked in my life. I am filled with gratitude for the family, friends, and sisters who were there to celebrate that joyous day with me and who accompany me on the journey. I continue to reflect on the scripture readings that chose me to mark this vowed life commitment. I believe they will serve me throughout my life deepening my intention, keeping me pointed in God’s direction, and reminding me of the container that gives my life meaning.

First, TRUST. God promises blessings in abundance so I will always have what I need to do God’s work. How quickly I forget this and rely on my own limited skills and ego. Second, LOVE. The way of Jesus is the way of love. And love is always the way forward. In any situation, I need to pause and ask myself what response will be the most loving and bring more love into the world. Third, GIVE GENEROUSLY. Just as the poor widow gave two small coins that were all she had, I too am called to give all that I have, not just when it’s easy or out of my abundance. I’m learning this doesn’t mean saying yes all the time. There is grace in the occasional no and knowing when the time is right to go all in. When I do these three God will show me the path of life and the fullness of joy in God’s presence.

In the wanderings of my prayer, the wisdom of these bits of scripture intertwine with the wider context of religious life I glimpsed at the LCWR Assembly, “Embracing Mystery, Living Transformation.” For me trust, love, and generous giving are the guideposts for living our current reality of religious life. They invite us to look around, who are the unseen blessings in our midst that may be who we need to lead our communities now. Look within, find the place of deep love to live out of when the communal transformation process is difficult and painful at times. Go out! As women religious we have an abundance of education, experiences, resources, and collaborative connections that the world needs now.

We know why we are here. We have the container for our life. Transformation will happen when we surrender and live deeply each present moment in trust, love, and generous giving.