I have been absent this week from my daily schedule that includes this reflection exercise, present instead to my Sisters of St. Joseph around the USA and the world. I am presently in Tsu, Japan, leading a retreat for our Sisters here. Previous to coming here I shared the experience of the United States Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph (almost 700 of us) in Orlando, Florida, where we were keenly aware of the violence that had been visited on that city and other places in our country and the world over the past several weeks.
The theme of today’s (Sunday) readings from Genesis 18 and Luke 12 is one of hospitality. Abraham and Sarah, visited by three strangers, were quick to prepare a special meal and Martha and Mary welcomed Jesus, each in their own way. There is much to say about each of these readings but this time I choose rather to reflect on my experiences of the Sisters of St. Joseph with whom I share a meaningful heritage of hospitality. The event in Orlando was like a homecoming of the largest family imaginable. We share a lineage of 180 years in this country and hundreds more in Europe. We were joined by “cousins” from Canada, India, Argentina, Japan and Italy and were treated royally by the staff at the hotel where we were housed. Our agenda was serious, considering our charism of unifying love in the context of our world today and in the future but we also spent time opening ourselves to friends new and old in the joy of knowing our kinship in God.
From that place of love I traveled far to find the same spirit in our Sisters in Japan. This privilege of mine was met with unparalleled hospitality from ten wonderful women with whom I have explored more deeply and close to home (our own congregation) our present viability and our future possibility for reaching out to a world in need. It has been a humbling experience for me to listen to these peaceful, joyful women in a language I do not understand but with the confidence of heart that knows their respect and willingness to share. Being the person who needs a translator is a different role for me (and any one of us from America), but translation slows us down so there is more opportunity and necessity for reflection as we go forward.
I will leave Japan in two days with a suitcase full of memories from the last 11 days in Orlando and here, richer for the experiences and willing for the unfolding of whatever awaits in the days ahead. I am once again overwhelmed with gratitude for the life I have been given and the experiences that make me know that we are, essentially, all one.