Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Biggest Sacrifice: The Family of My Soul

Today was a day where half of me wasn't there. Sure, I worked in the Hispanic Ministry office, typed up bulletins and did everything that needed to be done....but part of me was somewhere else. Why? Because I knew, thousands of miles to the South, two of these goofballs on the right were making their perpetual profession, the goofball on the far left being one of my closest friends during my two years in Bolivia. I imagined them laying prostrate, flowers being thrown around them, the huge smiles on both their faces. But instead of being there, I was here in middle Georgia doing office work.

I miss them. A lot.

Only recently have I truly discovered my biggest sacrifice entering religious life. I knew it coming in but its reality has slowly taken root - leaving behind the girls of the orphanage and the Sisters I lived and worked with for two years (the same community I entered). They aren't family, but for two years, they were my family. And while it's been almost three years since I moved back to the United States, they've continued to feel like family.

And now I am a postulant with the Daughters of Charity, a community that puts a heavy emphasis on the belief that your family becomes our family and has regular family visits. Yet I know those Sisters in Bolivia, those girls, are not my family. They grew up in a different culture, a different country, even sometimes a language I don't even know. But there is something deeper than blood that makes them family to me, as if it was the utter being of my soul that picked them out to more than just former co-workers/housemates to me.

But the truth is I don't know when I'll see them again, I don't know if I'll see them again. (Saying that, thank God for modern technology....for the use of Skype today to hear their voices, for chats over Gtalk)

They are, by far, the biggest sacrifice I've ever had to make to be a Daughter of Charity. The strangest thing is, though, I somehow know this is where God wants me....which is where the conflicting feelings of the joy of true vocation and the sorrow of unwanted sacrifice clash. Where the sting of loss mixes with a somehow-authentic sense of "it's all worth it"I'm sure those two Sisters who made their perpetual profession today would tell you the same thing. They each had to sacrifice something to reach where they are today, to dedicate their lives entirely to God. They both entered the community in high school but there are sacrifices even for high school girls and even more as they continued on in community life. Those two women that made their perpetual vows today...women that I have seen chase loose chickens around the convent, twist their faces in all sorts of funny ways to make others laugh, hold my hand as they used an escalator for the first time, beautifully demonstrate the dances of their Aymara ancestors.....are truly examples for me. They inspire me. I am so proud of them and I am so blessed to know them. Perhaps that is why God brought them in my life, so that they be sisters of mine, inspiring lights for me to follow, even from a thousand of miles away.

That doesn't make missing them any easier though.

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