Tuesday, December 15, 2009


In high school I spent some time at the Sisters of Notre Dame convent adjacent to my school. The nuns sent an open invitation to all the La Reina girls and I was one of about 3 girls who accepted. I thoroughly enjoyed Sister Antoinette Marie and Sr. Lisa. They incorporated eastern and indigenous prayer rituals in our class prayers and were active in promoting justice and education through projects in Africa. Without realizing it at the time, the nuns embodied the type of Christianity it would take me 10 years to believe in being and actively cultivate. Finding God in all areas of Creation, loving inclusively, serving those in need, and finding communities that foster these ways of living.

I was reminded of my wonderful experiences with nuns when a group of Maryknoll sisters came for a farm visit last Sunday. These women are incredible. They've lived all over the world, built hospitals and schools, been incarcerated in China, contracted tuberculosis in Mexico, and are now staying in Monrovia.

My favorite part of their visit was their sharing of their daily spiritual practices. Each mentioned ways they pause to connect with God in prayer. Gloria practices centering prayer, Maureen sits on the ground, faces the mountains, and breathes in meditation, Moira cultivates her presence in the now by reading spiritual literature, Pauline sits in the sun in reflection and repeats a simple word or phrase until she has totally absorbed its meaning, Pat uses eastern meditations she learned while living in Asia. All of these women have engaged their spirituality through their experiences living abroad, just as I have learned to engage my spirituality through my experiences here on the farm.

What also struck me about these women, besides their amazing stories, was their lightness of heart and joy in being. When we toured the field they were absolutely delighted to pull on rubber boots, tromp through mud, and try all the produce (dirt and all). During our 1st Annual Christmas Sing-Along, they gleefully drank cheery eggnog, sang along, played instruments, and even got up to dance along to the music.

Gloria, a self-proclaimed "Latin from Manhattan" is as shocked as we were to see little rabbit bites in our geode squash.

Grace, a Catholic Worker, shows Pauline, Moira, and Maureen our mildewy spinach.

They were even good sports when their car broke down on the way home. Some Catholic Workers provided the transportation in a very beat up van which ran out of gas and overheated not even 20 minutes away from the farm. Of course, the sisters took the break down in stride and retold the story with grace and humor.

Days after their visit, I am realizing a connection I feel to these women, a few generations my senior. These women have spent a lifetime doing things I've only recently started to feel urges to do. They've made decisions to forgo traditional societal ways to live in communities of women who create powerful political, social, and spiritual changes throughout the world. I'm starting in my own familiar corner of the world and my steps are nowhere near as powerful or profound as the lives of these women. But, if my steps follow in the spirit of their footsteps, my path is looking good.


  1. Maryknoll sisters, by and large, just totally rock. They are powerful witnesses to transformative truth.

  2. What a beautiful post. You've so nicely described the impact those older women had on us.