10/14/2004

2024 Imagine ten women

Imagine ten women, each sitting down in her home or office in front of an Internet wallscreen. It is 9:00 on Thursday evening, January 21, 2024. With a push of a button the screen provides holographic images of each woman, so that they seem to be seated in a circle. The prayer center has been prepared by the Thursday night convener; a simple Taizé chant begins and flows smoothly from one language to another. The group is drawn together towards a place of recuperative quiet and inner peace, towards a place of contemplation of the activities of this day. The chant becomes quieter and becomes silence until the sound of Nadika’s laugh emerges: “The beauty of God was so evident in my contemplation of fibers of DNA today...” Nadika, genetic researcher, is the life-companion of her sister, Kim, whose brilliant mind and cerebral palsy have inspired Nadika’s daily search for a cure. One after another, interspersed with moments of reflection, each woman shares her place of encounter with God that day: the programmer, the health system bioethicist, the parish life coordinator, the software designer, the nurturing mother and parental caregiver... Then Kim reads a short scripture from the Gospel of John. A commentary on the text taken from the recently discovered mystical writings of a 20th century physicist and feminist appears on the screen for the reflective reading of each community member. Another silence, and an opportunity to quietly weave the threads of the readings and the shared stories in pursuit of their common goal: exploration into the mystery of God. They gather this way three times a week, each one drawing from and nourishing her own regular personal prayer which has become as indispensable to her as breath itself.

Many years ago, after gathering as university students for a weekend of guided reflection with the SNJM Sisters, some participants continued to meet. Eventually a small group of women felt called to a permanent commitment which they described as a call to bring the loving strength of Jesus, the servant, the washer-of-feet, into their own daily lives and to support one another through individual and frequent communal prayer. Two of their members now own and direct the Sisters' retreat house where their first meeting took place. Every three years the group members gather there for prayer and exchange with other groups of women and men who have adopted or are adapting their model of contemplation in action. A highlight of these days is the prayer and sharing with some of the Sisters from the original guided reflection group and the opportunity to connect with some of the younger SNJM Sisters whose discernment to join the congregation began in the contemplation-in-action groups. The emerging new expressions of the Congregation's mission in 2024 are a source of gratitude for all.

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