Sunday, August 13, 2006

Stormy weather

Here at the convent, our Sunday celebrant is encouraged to give a brief homily as well as preside over the Mass. Today's was a thought-provoking mix of the appointed Scripture and current events... always a good combination if we're to take the Gospel seriously and find meaning in it for our lives.

The thrust was on our "historical memories" and how they inform (and sometimes enforce) our sense of ourselves. For example, the sense of entitlement or its opposite, victimhood. Events in the Middle East are not so different today than in the time of Deuteronomy... people killing each other over land, with all the subsequent feelings of rage and displacement. (God gave us this, we have a right. We were here first, it's ours.)

Our priest went on to suggest that these same stories, the historical memories, can also prevent the spiritual growth they were originally designed to preserve. We are not exempt from conflict just because we think God (or reason) is on our side. There will always be the flip side of the coin, the other opinion. And that other point of view is also supported by its own historical memory.

They say memory is selective. Obviously that's true in conflicts over events that both sides remember differently. We have our own microcosm here. We have two houses with differing expressions of the monastic life, and we come together on a regular basis to discuss issues, to preserve a cohesive unity.

Sometimes we're successful. Other times we break down into armed camps. The habit issue (as it's come to be called distastefully) once discussed and somewhat settled, is unfortunately still alive and well. The historical memory of those long and grueling sessions is different in both houses. I'm from Melrose, just moved to the city. So in the eyes of some sisters here, (especially regarding sensitive issues) I'm a Melrose sister, imposing my version of the religious life on them. They see themselves as both victim and entitled.

I'm trying to understand it all... and navigate the treacherous waters. Today was an especially stormy and seasick kind of day.

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