Our visit to the Sisters of the Assumption in Chaparral, NM lifted my spirits in a time of great fear and anger in myself and in my community. The hospitality that the Sisters showed us by opening their home allowed us to share in the simple communion of eating and talking together. It was regrounding for me as I remembered that at the end of the day this is what it’s all about – being in community and sharing what we have with each other.
Many of us wanted to know what the Sisters do in Chaparral. I was struck when Sister Chabela commented that she’d rather talk about the people of Chaparral than about what the Sisters do. Her focus on the community and away from her own work was humbling for me. The next time I’m asked what I do as part of Border Servant Corps, I will think twice about how I answer.
Our conversation centered on the topic of reconciliation. We talked about what it means to actively engage with those who are different from us, especially those whose opinions or ways of life seriously frustrate us. I didn’t come away with a magical solution to engaging with people I can hardly stand to be around, but I did come away with this: it’s on me to take the first step towards reconciliation. If I wait around for someone else to take the first step, nothing will happen. As unfair as it feels, it has to be me.
Our visit ended in the Sisters’ chapel, a separate building that is always open to the community. Upon entering the space I was overcome with a great sense of peace. Even though it was late, I felt I could stay there for hours. What a blessing, to have such a resource in the community. Being in the chapel got me thinking about all the ways we can support each other in times of struggle. Support doesn’t have to be money or food or material things. Sometimes support looks like tending a building of peace and prayer, and inviting others in.
By Erica McDowell, BSCer