Fun with Family

Luca at Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

My mother was born in Cologne, Germany and so I have cousins in a few German cities and villages. Christina, my cousin, Andreas her husband, and Luca their niece came to visit me this summer for ten days. It was wonderful. We walked Nisqually Wildlife Refuge and Tumwater Falls. Through the generosity of my sisters here at the Priory they explored a beach at Kalaloch and saw the Atlas Spruce Tree at Lake Quinault; saw highlights of Seattle; and went shopping at the outlet mall. We had a family get-together at my niece’s house where we ate barbecued bratwurst, hamburgers, and ribs. There was visiting and getting to know each other there. We played Corn Hole in the back yard. Lots of fun.

I noticed that it was easy to talk with my German family. They had a good command of English and I could understand German (mostly). I also noticed that it was easy to share important things with family. We fell into intimacies quickly, telling family stories and history, and comparing our lives lived in Germany and America. Some stories were funny and we laughed. Some were sad and we shared silences and hugs. And some were just of our ordinary lives.

What a blessing family can be, especially when people listen deeply to each other and share honestly and openly. Sometimes family can be a struggle, too. Dysfunctional dynamics that were set up a long time ago are hard to overcome. Family secrets and ways of being that started with distant ancestors can remain in our present situations making it difficult to understand and change.

Benedictine monastic life is similar but not exactly like family life. Each sister brings to community her own family history, the behaviors she learned within her family, and her talents, gifts and desire to seek God. Imagine fourteen women living together with all of that complexity! We give each other the privacy and the space to develop, to be, and to share at whatever level is safe and comfortable. As we seek God, who is Love, and as we share our histories and our lives, the love grows and the bonds of friendship and community get stronger and stronger.

We enjoyed walking at Tumwater Falls

 I said good-bye to my German family with long hugs and well wishes all around. It was a bittersweet moment. They went off to British Columbia to new experiences and vacation fun. I am grateful for their visit and their warmth and their generous sharing. I am grateful for family… and for community, wherein I was planted and in which I grow.









  • Comment posted by Janice J. Ariza on August 18, 2023 at 11:24AM (10 months ago)

    I love this post. Sr. Monika has captured the very essence of family life with biological connections and the community. The relationships we have within our midst are always important, challenging and so very worthwhile. Our listening and care for others is the fruit of a Christian walk. I certainly enjoyed getting to know our German visitors. Thank you :)

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