Earlier this week I watched the “Contemplative Dialogue” around the habit that the congregation hosted and livestreamed. I was unclear what to expect and—perhaps like many of the sisters that tuned-in—felt a tad anxious about how such a charged discussion would go. The group discussion demonstrated a model of interaction and engagement that was inspiring: of respect, diverse expression, articulate sharing, and unity. How wonderful to be a part of this congregation!
I watched it with my community, which includes as diverse a set of experiences with the habit as the group of women on the panel. The dialogue was a success in that it stimulated our own conversation on the topic; we shared our experiences, opinions and perspectives about how, when, where, and what the habit can and does represent. While we had our share of differences, there was consensus that the habit is a powerful and complex symbol that has multi-layered meanings to us, as women religious, and to the rest of the world.
I’ve only begun to discern my own relationship with the habit, and am finding these conversations very helpful to that process. The vulnerable sharing among sisters is providing a much-needed element of communal discernment. Moreover, participating in the congregation’s process of honest self-examination affirms that I am with the right group of women: courageous in confronting challenges and open to the movement of the Spirit. Regardless of what I decide about receiving "The Habit", these are habits I intend to take on as a sister.