"Take time to be aware that in the very midst of our busy preparations
for the celebration of Christ's birth in ancient Bethlehem,
Christ is reborn in the Bethlehems of our homes and daily lives.
Take time, slow down, be still, be awake to the Divine Mystery
that looks so common and so ordinary yet is wondrously present."
Edward Hays, A Pilgrim's Almanac
One of the many negatives that arose from the presidential election became apparent whenever any news channel presented a panel of "experts" to discuss controversies and debates that happened in the last year. One person would begin to answer a question and suddenly the rest of the panel would chime in, each raising the volume of the discussion to the point where no one could listen to any of it.
This dynamic of trying to get one's opinion expressed without listening to others has been extended from politics to the sports world, entertainment and, unfortunately, to family life. It is a great advancement to have Twitter and Facebook, to have the opportunity to share something of your life with friends and family, but all of this one-sided sharing may have led to a lack of listening and respect for the other.
Advent affords us the great opportunity to listen and be still. The readings and reflections during these sacred four weeks challenge us to reflect and wait in hope for our God. However, it takes a determined effort to be still and listen when the world gives us messages of what Christmas
---- or rather, "the Holidays"
---- means. Shop, shop, shop; buy, buy, buy; more, more, more. Only you can turn off what the world says Christmas means and embrace what it truly is.
Recently I reread
The Road Less Traveled, Scott Peck's 1978 contribution to a world crying out for authenticity and happiness. It is a favorite book of mine, and it challenges me to remember that "life is difficult, and it is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it." Peck wrote: "Human beings are poor examiners, subject to superstition, bias, prejudice, and a profound tendency to see what they want to see rather than what is really there." All of these factors work against spiritual growth.
Advent is the beginning of a new Church year, an opportunity to live our lives intentionally as Dominicans. We have the gifts of prayer, study, communal life, and service to help steer us away from commercialism and selfishness. We have, as Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates, the gift of the General Chapter Enactments, to focus our energy toward the greater good and true enlightenment. Yes, December may be the Double Jeopardy round for trying to focus on the sacred and to really listen, but we have been given the tools to accomplish this.
Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates gather in the Dominican Republic.
One thing that continues to give me inspiration and hope is the willingness of women and men to seek truth, make peace and reverence life by discerning if Associate Life is right for them ---- to discern if they have the Dominican charism. We recently welcomed four new Associates at Barry University. Details and photos will be included in the January 2017 issue. We also have two formation groups, including a group in the Dominican Republic, and many other prospective Associates studying the charism. Despite our troubled world, there are people who want something more ... and we welcome them into our family.
Years ago, I had the privilege of attending a two-day seminar with Scott Peck, who passed away in 2005. His presentation was just as interesting as his books, and it was a great experience. He ended our time together by asking all of us to sing this song, which he said was a fitting response to
The Road Less Traveled. It is by Bette Middler:
Some say love, it is a river
That drowns the tender reed.
Some say love, it is a razor
That leaves your soul to bleed.
Some say love, it is a hunger,
An endless aching need.
I say love, it is a flower,
And you its only seed.
It's the heart afraid of breaking
That never learns to dance.
It's the dream afraid of waking
That never takes the chance.
It's the one who won't be taken
Who cannot seem to give,
And the soul afraid of dyin'
That never learns to live.
When the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun's love
In the spring becomes the rose.
Associate Directors' Meeting
On October 28-30, I attended the National Directors of Dominican Associate Programs meeting in Sinsinawa, Wisconsin. The beautiful Motherhouse, situated in southern Wisconsin, brought directors together from the following Congregations: Adrian, Amityville, Blauvelt, Caldwell, Grand Rapids, Hope, Peace, Racine, Sinsinawa, Sparkill, Springfield, and Tacoma.
The weekend was prayerful, fun, and informative. Conni Dubick, an Associate and the director at the Sisters of Peace, is also president of the North American Conference of Associates and Religious (NACAR). She presented us with the results of a survey on Associates in all congregations, not just Dominican. It was rather surprising to learn that the responses from 378 participants in the survey revealed significant growth in the numbers of Associates, up to more than 55,000 Associates in all congregations. This number is more than double the number of Associates in 2000. Surprisingly, in some congregations, the number of Associates is greater than the number of Sisters.
We plan to offer Dominican Associates more opportunities to join together, as many congregations are offering retreats and days of reflection that might be appealing to all. We are also going to let everyone know where we have Associates, so that an Associate who is wintering in Florida or moving can connect with other Associates.
This was the seventh time I have participated in the directors' weekend, and I was once again struck by our many similarities, a reflection of the Dominican charism that we all share. We share our formation materials, brochures, and other materials, but we are one of the very few Associate groups to have a monthly newsletter.
I look forward to connecting with the other directors throughout the year and meeting with them next fall in Sinsinawa.
Associate Life is creating opportunities to use technology to share the Dominican charism. Recently, Patty Harvat, OP, gave a presentation on the Dominican charism. Associates and Sisters may access this presentation on the
under the Associates tab or in the video library. If you do not have access to the members' website, please contact me so I can arrange this for you. The website features many other presentations, including those from Partners IV.
Recently, two groups explored group formation for Associate Life. A group in Adrian began meeting monthly on November 30, but will not meet in January. Another group in Flint, Michigan, is also beginning to meet.
A new group is forming at Barry University and we have prospective Associates in West Palm Beach and Boca Raton.
The Advisory Board is exploring ways to live out the first Enactment. See below for reflections on this Enactment by Associates.
In this season of gifting, please remember to use Amazon Smile for any Amazon purchase. A portion of your purchase will go to the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, Clinton Township, Michigan