February 25, 2020
by Bridget Bearss, RSCJ
In 2016, the Society of the Sacred Heart held a General Chapter where four calls were identified for the shaping of our direction:
- To reach new frontiers
- To live more humanly
- To create silence
- To be and act as one Body
Nearly simultaneous to experiencing the depth of these calls for the international family of the Sacred Heart, I encountered members of a growing network of relationships. Known by a variety of names, Nones & Nuns or Sisters and Seekers, these groups of women (and men in other settings), whose life choices take different forms, gather to be present to matters of the heart in ways that connect and integrate the depth of the contemplative with the experience of the active.
I first encountered the wisdom of these gatherings of groups categorized by names – ‘millenials and boomers or gen-x and gen-z’ – when I attended the Parliament of World Religions in Toronto, Ontario, and heard Katie Gordon speak about the connectivity and intersection of these two groups with like passions and different life-forms. Little did I know that the origins of the group were happening in Grand Rapids, Michigan, while I spent 26 years in Detroit, and only discovered the energy of this hope when a new ministry took me to the Stuart Center, where I now work in Washington D.C..
In the last year, this same seed of hope has been planted in the D.C. area, and Stuart Center has been delighted to be part of the birth of these gatherings in our local area.
There are no definitive benchmarks or outcome objectives that need to be adhered to or dues that clarify membership on a national database. Instead, the initiative invites participants who range from 20-something to 90-something to come together to cross the frontiers that age and culture can see as barriers or boundaries. We come together to create some silence; to understand what our own human-ness means; and to envision how our climate, our advocacy, our vision and our hope might be changed with our walking together.
My world-view keeps broadening as generative listening invites me to open my heart and meet the women of D.C. – Sisters and Seekers – in places outside of the space we create together. From learning spaces to advocacy to policy making to worship, I find that my pathway intersects with the women with whom I have made a commitment to shape a community from the “inside-out.”
I marvel that while we gather for our meetings through invitations and digital media, our lives intersect in what we care about, for whom we advocate and the climate we want to repair. It is here, at the heart of the matter, that I experience the wisdom and the creative love that is at the root of our gathering.
And here, in this space of meeting those of apparent difference, I encounter the calls that shape my intention. I realize, again, that I am the humble student in the guise of a teacher. Boundaries and roles fall away like the scales of the apostle Paul’s eyes, and I know that we are all one.
The D.C. area Nuns & Nones group began meeting in the summer of 2019.