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Discernment & Retreats
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Then we began to see families begin to disintegrate under the pressures of modern life — the rising divorce rates, the feminist movement, the rush for riches. Our families made hard decisions to live simply without lots of extra material goods so that we could stay home and be with our children. Because of our backgrounds, both of us began paying attention to education reform, and we recognized that the plans, programs and methods were not Christian.
So we made the decision to homeschool our children. We also noticed as new things came into the evangelical world, and not always for the better. Both of us went through trying times in churches that began to enthusiastically embrace new theologies and new methods. We were already up to our eyeballs in diapers and playdough. It was all we could do to just snatch a few winks of sleep once in awhile.
Over the ensuing years Sarah received a heavy dose of Dominionist teachings. Sue was exposed to the leadership and purpose-driven models. By the late s we knew that something had gone terribly wrong with our Christian walk.
We were constantly being told that we needed to have new methods, new practices, new beliefs and new doctrines. But when we tried to incorporate these new things into our faith, it resulted in losing Jesus as our first love. It stole our joy. It caused turmoil and conflict. And it took us away from the simplicity of the Gospel. We both raised questions. Why was this new teaching coming into the churches?
The Amazing Discernment of Women
Where did it come from? What was behind it? This questioning led us on a relentless search, first to examine our Christian walk, then to examine the truths of Christianity and Jesus, and then to try to find out why these new methods, practices, teachings could so seriously erode the Truth of the Gospel of Salvation.
It seemed like another gospel. The Lord had uniquely gifted both of us with a passion for doing historical research so we began to dig.
There is a story in Revelations about a portent of a woman who is in the throes of labor, when another portent appears in the sky, this time of a dragon. Hope, it is said, is giving birth in the face of the dragon… It is that impulse of hope that called on me to bear and bring forth a child despite the difficulties. Even in the harshest of poverty, the devastations of war, the threat of environmental annihilation, we continue to give birth, and each birth is an act of hope. Ritual is play. When we embrace the abundance that we have been given, when we celebrate and grieve and hold one another in community, when we dare to imagine and practice a world of interdependence, justice, and love without oppression, borders, and systemic violence, we take the Holy Spirit up on her invitation to co-create with and within her.
The Lucile Murray Durkin scholarship gave me a boost to continue my journey of engaging with the Spirit in this most serious form of play: discerning how I am called to spiritual leadership and priestly service on the colonized land on which I live, in the community I move, love, and struggle within, and in the long story of the Catholic Church in which my own story is engraved.
I am grateful for this scholarship and the strength, spirit, and stories of the women behind it because it has made the counter-cultural path I walk a little more possible. I am a radical Catholic, standing on the shoulders of the like of Ivone Gebara, Elizabeth Johnson, Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz, Liz McAlister, and Rose Berger, drawing on the depth and strength of creativity and action that these giants of our tradition offer willingly with open hands. My spirit is willing as I continue to ask the questions of how to take up the mantle of theological reflection, sacramental calling, and healing of communities and the earth.
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Yet, this path continues to be a complicated one: How will I support myself in this work?