Six months in, here is a patchwork of first impressions from this time of preparation for final vows. We wrote this together, each bringing her own personal experiences:
- This was the first time I ever left Africa, the first time I saw moving sidewalks and escalators, the first time I took a plane…Everything was new for me! I was afraid…I didn’t know what awaited me. At the same time, something inside assured me everything was going to be ok. Still, when I had to look for my connecting flight, I felt dizzy. I stopped, scarcely breathing, as the people around me hurried past to reach their plane “fast-fast.” And suddenly, to my surprise, in the midst of the swirl a man stopped to ask if I was all right. He kindly offered to go with me. I was touched, and realized that there are kind people everywhere in the world.
- Once I got here in Rome I realized we are quite a lively group. We share easily. We’re not afraid to show our feelings. We can say when we’re feeling fine, and also when we’re not. I’m used to saying what I think to people with whom I’m having difficulties, and when the other person is having a difficulty with me, I find it helpful if they come speak to me directly about it too. Once I’ve expressed to the other person what it is I find difficult, I can go back to having a normal relationship, I don’t keep hard feelings inside. For me, it’s not a problem if we think differently. But in community life I noticed that some people are sad when I tell them I disagree with them. I experience that nearly every day. Now I try to find a different way, sometimes I keep quiet and listen; sometimes the words burst out all by themselves even if I don’t want them to. It’s hard to find the best way…I discovered our differences, and that I bring to a relationship what is beautiful in me, but also what is wounded. We’re all broken; the other person is a mirror for me. Fortunately, we help each other. For example, those who have an easier time with French are careful to translate for those who struggle.
- Some little sisters helped us learn about the lives of Br. Charles and l.sr. Magdeleine. Both were marked by the historical context of their time: war, Christian culture, the loss of family members, experience of Muslim people. I tried to see what their context might have in common with mine, and that helped me understand what in turn made me what I am today. It helped me accept my own story, and the history of my country. It all gives me an inner freedom, so I can share without fear of being judged or ridiculed. Several people contributed to Br. Charles’ vocational search: Muslims who prayed, his cousin Marie, Abbé Huvelin (the priest who was his spiritual director)…I was also supported by several people in my own vocation. My mother and my brother said to me, “It’s your life, it’s your choice, we will pray for you.” The little sisters also helped me along the way to see more clearly about what I was feeling inside, about my vocation. When I go to the grave of our foundress, l.sr. Magdeleine, it reminds me that the journey of life has an end. It’s a call to “live well” with others, with God, at the service of the peoples.
- Another experience I had was when I was working with our artisan little sisters. They make little statues and clay plaques (the Baby Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and Christmas Crib figurines…). I worked with them for one week, shaping clay. I pressed it into the molds, to form figures of the infant Jesus, then I touched them up to remove the excess clay. I learned how making Crib scenes is an occasion of both difficulty and joy. Before that I had never given any thought to how they were made. I realized it’s not as easy as I thought, because it takes a lot of patience and dedication to get good results.
So those are a few of our experiences. I sincerely hope you recognize your own life in ours. Don’t hesitate to write to us to share about your experiences.
L.Srs. Aureliya-Musabyimana, Dorcas, Elizabeth-Chinasa, Marta Uwizeye, Ruth-Amendu, Virginia-Ebere, Lucy-Ufuoma
The little sisters of the Common Year (time of formation before final vows.)