Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Expansive Hearts

I never knew that other countries commemorate love on days other than Saint Valentine’s Day.  In Bolivia, South America, where the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa have lived and ministered since 1960, love is celebrated on their first day of Spring, which is September 21st.  You can tell from this date that Bolivia is in the Southern Hemisphere. 

As we grow in global awareness, it is such a privilege to learn the various customs and cultures of others.  As Dominicans, when we vow “obedience to Almighty God,” I believe we make a promise to open ourselves up to “every race, language, and culture,” as our brother Bartolomé de las Casas said.   I often hear this openness in the conversations of my sisters with whom I live.  They talk about spending a number of years on mission in a small mining town in Montana, then going to an inner city parish in Chicago, and after that, out to an East coast suburban school.  Wherever we are, we are called to become one with those with whom we share daily life.  We learn their languages.  We feast on their favorite foods and learn all the popular dance steps.  We educate ourselves to understand their customs and prayers and family values.  In the process, we change.  With each new mission, our heart space expands and grows.  What is always amazing is the room in each heart for another place and people. 

Our world desperately needs women with expansive hearts ready to change, to learn, to move, and to say “I love you” in whatever language needed.  Who would like to come and continue the learning process with us?  Stay a week, a year, or a lifetime! 
Peggy Ryan, OP, former Bolivian missionary who is expanding her heartstrings now in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin

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