By Sister Judith Minear
Spring is late this year, at least where I live. It is nearly the end of April, yet flowers are just beginning to debut in our neighborhoods! Forsythia dots the highways, but trees seem reluctant to bud, no doubt suspicious that we have not seen the end of snow.
Last Sunday morning, sunshine was ‘live-streaming’ through my balcony doors, lighting everything in its path. And I do mean everything! Delighting in its beauty soon became noticing every bit of dust and grime that has collected in my living room this winter.
“That does it,” I thought. “Time for Spring cleaning!”
Anyone who knows me is aware that I am happiest when I am making lists and checking off completed tasks. Over the next hour, I created my Spring Cleaning 2018 to-do list. I also started to wonder about this pattern of “springing into action” in Spring. How many other phrases sprang from spring…and how many of them describe my life as a Sister of St. Joseph?
Let me count the ways! Here are three of my favorites.
1. No Spring Chicken:
It is no surprise to anyone that the majority of us sisters are aging. I myself am turning 66 this week. What might surprise you is how little aging affects what sisters are doing every day for the sake of our mission of unity! Every sister generously brings her gifts to the ministry table. Those gifts include prayer, “hidden” support, insightful ideas, and/or action. Being a part of a cross-generational community of women and associates is profound, and bears the fruits of both wisdom and ingenuity, lived out by sisters who willingly do “anything of which a woman is capable” (a saying from our early documents which we live by to this day!).
Years ago, one of our oldest sisters in Wheeling was trying to understand what it meant to “roast” someone who had recently retired.
“You know, sister,” said a man who had attended the roast, “it is when a group gets together and tells stories about the person retiring. Some of them are funny, some of them are serious. It’s a way of showing love and appreciation for the person.”
“Oh, yes,” said Sister Mary Grace. “We have that too. We call it a wake.”
In other words, we don’t every truly “retire,” we stay active until the very end!
2. Spring into action:
Sisters of St. Joseph are known to spring into action, regardless of the task. Our mission calls us to assess the needs of those around us, and then to meet them, often partnering with others to do so. In my 21 years of religious life I have watched my sisters create trafficking initiatives as readily as they help clear tables after an event. I have learned from them to stand with the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalized; to support peace and justice initiatives; and to advocate for systemic change. My sisters live and love boldly, ministering in ways “that all may be one” with God and with one another. There is no age-limit for springing into action as a sister. Living Love is for all time.
3. Hope springs eternal: A call to religious life is both radical and prophetic. A call to religious life is a call to stand in the mystery of this present moment in history and bring Jesus’ gospel to it. It means letting go of the familiar and risking the new. Numerous articles I have read about religious life speak of “diminishment.” As one who lives it, I choose to speak instead of the transformation and evolution of religious life. In her Global Sisters Report article, Linda Romey, a Benedictine Sister, quoted Carol Zinn, CSJ as saying “We are living in a moment where God is saying, to quote Isaiah, ‘Behold, I am doing something new. Do you not perceive it?'”
Eleven years ago my congregation reconfigured itself to live life differently in ways that simplified our ability and opportunity to live all of life for the sake of the mission. I am proud of how willingly (if also sometimes painfully) our sisters sacrificed what we knew for the sake of what could be. Our sacrifices for our mission are small when compared with Jesus’ great sacrifice, yet in both cases risk was taken with the confidence that this was the next right thing to do for the sake of the mission. Hope and Trust spring true.
Spring sunshine certainly helps me to see how my space is improved by a good Spring cleaning. In the same way, I pray that my eyes, ears and heart remain open to the many ways my sisters help me to continually spring back to life and love as a Sister of St. Joseph!
About the Author
Sister Judith Minear currently serves as part of the 3-member team for CSJ Ministries as Coordinator for Mission Integration, working with our 26 sponsored ministries. In her free time, she loves drawing zentangles, stalking birds and savoring poetry.