I walked into the locker room, my stomach in a tangle of excitement and trepidation. It was my first swim practice as a high school freshman. A girl sporting a swim t-shirt and a smile waved to me. “Hi, I’m Kristin,” she said. I laughed. “I am, too!”
Kristin and I quickly discovered that we had more in common than our names, and we became good friends. Eventually we both entered religious life. She entered a different Dominican congregation, and shortly afterward I came to Sinsinawa. We gradually fell out of touch.
At first glance, our lives look different. She chose a congregation whose sisters wear full traditional habits all the time; I didn’t. Her name has changed; mine is still Christin, with a “Sister” before it. She taught in a Catholic school and is now studying philosophy; I live on a farm and promote care of creation. To be honest, these differences often made me feel uncomfortable.
Recently, our other novices and I had the once-in-a-lifetime chance to travel to Washington, DC, to see Pope Francis. As we were leaving the venue after Mass, I turned around to see a familiar face. Amid the thousands of people present, I had spotted my old friend!
Our encounter was brief- just long enough to exchange a few hugs and take a photo together- but it was one of the most poignant moments of my trip.
As we embraced among the crowd, it finally dawned on me: it is GOD who has called us to live our Dominican charism in different ways, and that’s inherently beautiful, not inherently problematic! There will always be tension in diversity; that’s part of what drives evolution. As a global church, which is a member of the Earth community, this is our reality. Isn’t that part of what Pope Francis came here to preach?
Although we no longer share the same name, we share the journey of sisterhood. And although we travel that journey differently, the goal is the same: to follow Christ, to love God and to serve neighbor as well as we can.
When have you encountered polarities or false divisions? Is God inviting you to live in the tension?
Sr. Christin Tomy