As this new year in Community began in mid-August, we spent some time reflecting on “sisterly bonds.” Sisters can come in many shapes, sizes, forms, and fashions. For instance, I have been blessed to have an older sister to grow up with. Although there are 9 years between us, we are still close. She has always been there for me, looking out for me. We enjoy being together, and when I get home during my summer visits, we make it a priority to spend some time with each other. Now, my mom on the other hand only had an older brother in her family. However, when she was in the 8th grade, she met her best friend who became a sister to her. Through that sisterly bond, she has always been considered an aunt to my siblings and me. We count her kids as cousins, even though there is no blood relation between us. You see, you don’t have to be related to be family, or in this case sisters.
As with everyone, I have had many female friends come and go in my life, but not all of them have been seen as sisters. A sister is someone with whom you can completely open your heart to, and yet, not everyone can bare your heart. In Texas, where I am from, I still have a few close sister friends with whom I can tell anything to. We share our whole selves with each other, no matter the physical distance between us. Near and apart, we rejoice in the good times and support each other in the challenging times. There is a tight bond that has been there from the beginning, and we know that our relationships are gifts from God.
There is one friend who comes to mind as I am writing this reflection. She and I met on the first day of school at the beginning of the 10th grade and we were instant friends. We are still friends to this day over 30 years later. My parents used to refer to her as my crazy friend. With her, it is always easy to be silly and step outside of my comfort zone. We have seen each other through some really hard times and have celebrated the good times together along the way. Although we are far apart from each other, and live separate lives, when we do get together it is like time has not passed. When I was in my mid-twenties, I went through a very difficult time in my life and had to make some hard decisions. She was a constant for me the entire time. Yes, my other friends encouraged and supported me the best they could, but she was the one that physically showed up for me on the hardest day. That action has stuck with me and has made a huge impact on my life.
This action of physically showing up reminds me of when Mother Mary made haste to see Elizabeth after the angel Gabriel told her that her cousin was pregnant in her old age. Mary did not think of herself at that time, she focused on Elizabeth and showed up for her when she needed it. Mary and Elizabeth were more than cousins, they were sisters. They are the perfect example to look to in the New Testament. Not only did Mary support Elizabeth, but Elizabeth did the same for Mary. She called out Mary’s beauty and truest identity when, inspired by the Holy Spirit, called her “the Mother of my Lord” (as stated before Mary’s Magnificat in Luke 1:39-56).
Now, I cannot write about sisters, without mentioning the sisterhood I live in our Community. Within our Constitutions it is written, “We live the common life. We strive to build strong sisterly relationships in order to affirm, support, and challenge one another. We believe that intimate relationships are the foundation of our community. We look to Ruth and Naomi of the Old Testament, and Mary and Elizabeth of the New Testament as women of strong relationships” (Article. 2.18).
One of the biggest blessings in my vocation is sharing life with my wonderful sisters here in Community. Each year our sisterly bonds grow stronger and even grow in numbers as new women come and join us. Before living in Community, I had never experienced the joy of having younger sisters, since I am the youngest of my family. As with any family, it is not always rainbows and sunshine, but in the end, we are all sisters, and we love each other.
There is a special bond between each of us. We don’t just live together, but we share our lives. We laugh. We cry. We play. We pray. We are all welcome at the table, and all have our place. As our spiritual father, Fr. Bob Bedard taught us, “Before we will be able to do anything worthwhile for the Lord together, we will have to be something good together.”
So, what about you who are reading this? What characteristics do you consider important in a sister? Who do you consider to be your sisters in life? What kind of sister are you to others? These are all just things for you to ponder. Be sure to say a prayer to God thanking him for the sisters in your life. After, maybe take time to reach out and thank those sisters in your life as well. They certainly deserve it.