Personal Reflection

Assisi Heights was not the site that I had originally thought would be my project site; however, I stumbled upon this place in the midst of my fieldwork, and after taking a long tour around the place with Sister Avis, I found myself in awe of the place, its history, its people, its hospitality, and its uniqueness.

Although many stories that I've heard are extraordinary and surprising, what I found to be most alarming was the way in which they spoke about their faith and their relationships with God. I come from a Christian background, and therefore, was used to some of the terminology that they used. However, I was surprised by (but also in awe of) how freely and comfortably they used phrases such as “There was such grace from God” and “Thank you God for your great mercy to me.” Even to someone who is religious, this language seemed foreign. They are words that I’ve never uttered, even at times when I felt most confident with my faith. Upon hearing these phrases, I wondered: What would it take for me to say these phrases? And when I did say them, how strong would my faith be? What would my relationship with God look like?

I found that this language is just one example of the Sisters’ strong faith and close relationships with God. In the end, I realized just how much the Sisters have gained from such a faithful life. At many points in my research, I found myself so caught up on the fact that by joining such a life, you inherently forgo so much. I imagined what it would be like for me to enter religious life; however, every time I did so, I discarded the idea entirely because I could never let go of my current life and the plans that I have for my future. I wondered: Why would someone give up all of this?

This question was answered to me by Sister Lois as she used the (what I call) magically religious phrases mentioned previously. She explained that she hasn’t lost anything. Rather, she has gained everything that she had been prepared to forgo, and that it all came from her faith and her relationship with God. Although I still don’t see myself joining religious life anytime soon, it has definitely opened my appreciation to such a life.