I sit here in Cape May, vacationing with the Sisters, a vacation I've longed for as things got more and more frantic in Macon with the end of the school year. The Vincentians lend us two very large houses, connected by a tiny foot bridge, that fit about 20 Sisters combined. I'm vacationing with a few Sisters that I've never met before in my life.
But as I sat this morning, apparently too early for other Sisters to be awake, I sat, ate and talked with a New York Sister that I've never met before. As we shared with each other things about ourselves and she shared stories of her time in the Congo, it hit me - "I blend in. I can sit and talk with any Sister, without 'faking it'. I simply blend in." As I thought about it, it was the same feeling I got in Chicago last weekend, the same feeling I got in Georgetown (SC), Evansville (IN) and Jacksonville (FL). Not only do I feel I belong, but it seems the Sisters feel I belong too.
And that blending in doesn't mean losing yourself. In fact, blending in, for me anyway, means the opposite. And to me, it's a sign from God that I truly do belong here.
It's like blending a milkshake or a smoothie. Put in an ingredient that doesn't "fit" and the smoothie could easily go from delicious to disgusting, even though that ingredient may be delicious itself (as well as the others). It just needs the right ingredients to be with.
I believe it's the same with communities. If you're discerning and just looking for the right community, you have to find which blender you fit in. Some blenders may seem great - a delicious combination - but it could be that you somehow you know that you just don't fit, you just don't mix in well.
And more than anything, as I spend more and more time with Sisters I don't know, I see I fit into this blender. I'm still myself. I'm still my own ingredient yet something about them - about the Sisters, those other ingredients, no matter if I know them well or not - intensify who I already am.
Ask any Sister and, if they really thought about it, that sign from God that they belonged to a certain community was the fact they could blend in so easily.
Ask any younger Sister and I can almost guarantee they will give that answer.
It's a belonging that occurs despite everything - despite an age gap, despite different backgrounds, despite different missions, despite different interests. And it is those contradictions and that belonging that makes me realize that it's something that can only come from God. It is Him telling me that I belong, that I'm meant to be here, that these Sisters are my new family. And there is nothing compared to feeling God's love within community, within this new family I belong in.