On September 16th the 8 remaining Maryknoll Sisters from the group of 1968 gathered in the Sisters’ chapel to celebrate their Golden Jubilee, 50 years of making God’s Love Visible. Sr. Teruko Ito MM, one of that group as well as member of the Sisters’ Governing Board and the Affiliate Board, gave the homily. Teruko’s words – for the loving way she spoke about those in her group and especially for the depth of insight into the journey they (all of us) are on - became for so many at the Jubilee Mass (including me) a pivotal moment in time. She helped all of us get a contemplative glimpse into an evolving consciousness that sometimes eludes us.
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We heard a call “Come follow me!” And we began our journeying of becoming WE.
I was in Japan, raised in a home of several religious traditions, Catholicism, Buddhism and Shintoism! Prior to the Vatican Council II, this mix was not an easy one. Religious boundary line was very clear and thick and separated who was saved and who was not. But my mother believed in more flexible boundary. And I was nurtured in the spirit of becoming WE as one family.
In taking a long loving gaze at each other, we were led to accepting each other’s wounds. Tear-filled embrace between the two followed. And what emerged was our yes to brake the boundaries created by national and historical domination. We were awakened to the fact that we are truly One , truly WE.
In the past 50 years we crossed over many cultures and seemingly succeeded in becoming We, but deep in our hearts we felt a sense of limitation. And this sense of limitation became very clear by a contrasting sense of expansiveness of our world by developing sciences. The beautiful picture of Earthrise taken by the Apollo 8 Astronauts and subsequent picture of earth as Blue dot spoke our smallness to so many people. In these pictures we saw a call to expand and move our understanding of WE beyond human-centered to cosmic-centered We. A book, Divine Milieu, by Teilhard de Chardin, a geologist and paleontologist, came out in English in 1960 and his message helped our minds and hearts to expand, leading towards a highlighted new horizon. He called our attention to a delight in scientific discoveries, joy of human development, and the universe evolving in the unconditional love. We were beginning to hold the message of science and the insight from the wisdom of the indigenous people. The conversation between religion and science was helping to break another boundary of right and wrong. And all along we had been guided by different life styles and world visions of those people, especially indigenous people, to whom we were sent. They are calling us to shift our mission model of human development based on economic sustainability to a mission of co-creation towards a regenerative culture.
We are grateful for scientific discoveries and wisdom of the indigenous people.
It was in 2006 Maryknoll Sisters made a public choice to turn to the new relationship, and accepted and proclaimed the Maryknoll Sisters Land Ethic. It broke open a key boundary between human and other living beings in becoming WE with the land, the Mother Earth.
The old lines - national, ethnic, religious -are no longer true to our experience. We are in age of boundary meltdown. We are becoming global human beings who understand that we are not separate from one another or from the earth -who understand that there are no lines. It will take time for us to catch up with this new reality, but it’s already here - whether we like it or not.”
We are grateful for our trials, temptations and desert in our lives.
50 years ago, Thomas Merton said at Calcutta conference, shortly before his tragic death: “My dear friends, we are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are.”
With grateful heart for all those who taught us about Oneness, and who awakened us to that Oneness, let us come together to this Eucharist, the Open Table and celebrate our Yes to continue our journey of becoming One.
* Ann, also a member of the 68 class, was a recent member of the Affiliate Board