The Bonds of Intentionality

I live in an intentional community. I live with two other sisters from my congregation, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, a larger community of about 250 sisters and 200 or so lay affiliates.  I’ve been with the community for over three years now.  And, I continue to be completely awed by the bonds that are between us.

Most recently, one of the sisters I live with now lost her mother to a sudden illness.  As her mother’s health declined she boarded a plane here in Chicago and flew to be with her family and mom in Montana during her final days and through her burial.

I’ve only lived in my current community for six months.  It’s been six busy and intense months of ministerial comings-and-goings, shared prayer, shared meals, shared chores and shared fun.  But until the sister’s mother died, I wasn’t aware how deep our bonds had become.

As we blessed the sister at the airport and sent her in love to be with her mother, I was consumed with sadness.  While she was away with her mom, I was an emotional wreck.  When she called to tell us that she had died, I cried with her and told her that I had felt sad all week. She said that she knew. She could feel my spirit there with her in her own sadness.

I don’t get how these spiritual bonds work. The mystery of Love blows me away.  But I know deeply that this is how it’s supposed to work, we’re following the gospel and this fits with my desire and reasons to be a Sister.

Something indescible occurs when we live intentionally with one another.  We are transformed and supported. We are never alone. We grow into the people that we need to become for God’s good world.  We can only grow through relationship, after all.  This is what the Trinity has taught me.

The sister whose mother died has returned and our Trinity of community is back together after two weeks of physical fragmentation. But really, we never were separated before; our bonds are too deep for that. We take this Love thing too seriously.

We’re aware of our bonds. The other night for prayer we reflected on how much we are overlapped. We studied each other’s faces and drew features and switched papers and drew more features three times, so that at the end we each had a paper in front of us that included a hilarious mix of everyone’s features.  We laughed so hard.

And we sighed at the truth. We can’t even know how much we have become parts of one another.

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About Julia Walsh

Originally from Northeast Iowa, Sister Julia is a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, based in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Her love for God and God's good world is manifested in her attempts to be an educator, a youth empower-er, an earth lover, and a peacemaker. She ministers at a Franciscan retreat center in Wisconsin.

4 thoughts on “The Bonds of Intentionality

  1. This is a beautiful reflection, and it’s so true. Love is able to do things that seem inexplainable — cross distances and “know” when the right moment to call or email someone is. And the only explanation it really needs in the end is Love itself.

  2. Your beautiful reflection made me think about how living intentionally with others also brings you to live intentionally with yourself! You were able to be in touch with your sadness and to share it I think because transparency is encouraged and expected and respected in intentional community. I agree with Pax-if this isnt intimate love, I dont know what is. In my own vocational reflection I came across that theme, and reflected on where or with whom I would best find this intimate transperancy. And of course I was surprised to see I was being led to find that intimacy with myself. As one of my patients said once, “Isnt that just like God?”.

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