Nurturing Life: A Mutual Calling
“Your caring and kindness makes me feel warm.”
by Sister Kathy Flynn
From left: Sr. Kathy Flynn and Brooklyn work together to make jars of cookie and cocoa mix that were sold to benefit the women and children who experience homelessness and live at Maria House and Teresa Shelter in Dubuque, IA. Brooklyn’s heartfelt card accompanied jars of cookie mix. In John 10:10, Jesus promises, “I came that you may have life and life in abundance.” This specific message—and the message of the Gospels in general—is one of abundance, not scarcity. Lately, though, I have been reflecting on what it means to live in abundance, as opposed to with abundance. The former seems to refer to a state of being, the latter to one of possessing.
Since I entered religious life, my ministries have been focused mainly on women and children who are materially poor—who live materially scarce lives. Many of them have suffered abuse and the cascading fallout that often results. Women are disproportionately impacted by poverty, food scarcity, wage disparity, inadequate or unaffordable housing, and inadequate or unaffordable childcare. Many of the women with whom I have ministered have been women of color who I have seen suffer the added effects of discrimination and exhaustion from the daily hypervigilance that discrimination and racism cause.
Yet, through it all, many of these women have taught me what it means to live in abundance. They live lives of abundant transparency and authenticity—the kind I aspire to but have not yet achieved. They live lives of abundant generosity and compassion—toward others who are faltering and suffering, if not toward themselves. They live lives of abundant resilience and persistence, of abundant vulnerability—asking for help up when they’ve fallen in order to try one more time. I pray for the gumption and persistence they have in the face of what often seems to me to be insurmountable odds. And while many of these women live with abundant self-doubt and lack of self-confidence, they also live lives abundant in spiritual depth the likes of which we are all called. I am grateful for the privilege of knowing, working alongside, and being present to each of these remarkable women, each a beloved creation of our God.
As a Dominican Sister of Sinsinawa, my life is graced both in abundance and with abundance—in loving community, nurtured by prayer and lifelong study. With these gifts come great responsibility—the responsibility to respond to the needs of our time, to work for justice for all people so that they, too, may live both in and with the abundance that Jesus promises each of us.