Dear Sister: Living in Community
Do you ever have difficulty living with a group of women? How did you work through that?
I sometimes think that Sisters take four vows: poverty, chastity, obedience and sharing a
kitchen. Okay, that last one, which is not exactly a vow, is "living community life." It comes down to rubbing shoulders with others, which often means not quite getting to live the way I want to. The coffee is too strong—or too weak. The TV is too loud or not tuned to “my” show. The temperature is too hot or else “It’s freezing in here.” And the lasagna tastes nothing like my mother’s.
So what do you do? You remember that what we’re talking about here is love. Not love in the abstract--lived love. God wants you to be perfect, as he is (which is perfect in love) and the annoying people he sends your way are just exactly the gifts you need. You need patience? God will give you many opportunities to overcome your impatience. You need to grow in humility? Ah, there will be humiliation. You don’t really appreciate differences in people? Well, let’s have some practice! You have to be right all the time? Oops! Wrong again. God never promised a rose garden. He promised eternal life with him—and with all those other good folks who so annoy you. And he’ll see that you are prepared for it!
So what do you do? You ask for help, from God and from your Sisters. You rethink things. You apologize; you stretch; you grow. You acquire some perspective--this isn’t exactly martyrdom, after all! You trust that the heavenly Father gives good gifts to his children. And you smile. Because, to balance these difficulties (most of which I’ve experienced sometime or other) there is great, great joy. There are deep and supportive friendships, delightful late-night talks, the witness of prayerful women around you, and moments when you experience community life like the early Church must have had. And you laugh. Because, aren’t we human folks funny!
Hey, come on. I’ll be glad to share a kitchen with you!
55 years and counting