Our “House of Welcome” community likes to have parties. We look forward to gathering our sisters, friends, co-workers, and families to celebrate life whenever we can. For example, each year we have a Kentucky Derby party. This year it was a “Cinco de Derby” party, as the Derby just so happened to coincide with “Cinco de Mayo.” We created and wore festive “Derby” hats, sang “Our Old Kentucky Home,” had a festive meal and cheered for our horses as we watched the Kentucky Derby. Later in the spring, we had a farewell party for Sr. Bea – where we enjoyed party games on the lawn, ate picnic food and laughed well into the evening. Some would call us a “Party House.” One way we build and celebrate community (which is one of the pillars of our Dominican Life) is through our celebrations.
Just last week, we had an “Ethnic Advent party,” where each person brought a dish that represented their ethnic/cultural origins and highlighted old family recipes. We had tamales, shepherd’s pie, Irish soda bread, Italian cookies and pastries, Mexican hot chocolate with chili, German mac’n cheese and a smorgasbord of other tasty offerings. It mirrored the diversity of our community, anchored by our common bond of religious life and faith. It began and ended with prayer and was sprinkled with laughter, song, and stories of life’s joys and challenges.
These parties remind me of the many parties Jesus and the disciples attended over the years of their ministry and lives. Each of those gatherings mirrored the diversity of community and celebrated their common bonds of faith and hope. Jesus ministered to and with the people around him in simple everyday kind of ways. He gathered at tables, beside wells, and in places of worship. This is what we do in our lives as disciples of Jesus. We do not have a party every day, but each day holds the potential for transformational encounters in the presence of our God who knew how to gather others at table and celebrate life.
When I first heard and began considering God’s call to religious life, I wondered if I would be lonely or if I would have to disappear into the “melting pot” of community. My life as a Dominican Sister has been anything but lonely or melted into “sameness.” In fact, I have been encouraged to become my best self as I grow into the unique person God created me to be. I am amazed at the opportunities and challenges I have received in this life. Thank you God for giving me the courage to say, “Yes” to your invitation.
In this season of Advent, take time to encounter the other – to be transformed – and to consider what God might be calling you to with your “One wild and precious life.”