Mary and Elizabeth model the incredible bond of women friendship. They are intimately connected across miles. They celebrate each others milestones, and grieve at each others losses. They go to great lengths to support one another, and to grow individually and in their relationship with one another. Their connection is one of joy! Joy according to Fr. Himes, “Is the sense of the rightness of the way in which one is living one’s life.”
The sisters of the Visitation of North Minneapolis are joyous, they model women friendship, they model this inter-generational relationship, they model living a life open to the Holy Spirit.
Who are your closest women friends?
How do you nurture these relationships?
How do you continue to grow in friendship over time as people change and grow themselves?
When I was four and five I had an altar dedicated to Mary with a statue of her on it. I would spread my blanket out on the ground
and sit in front of her praying and then take a rest. The church at my cabin, has a statue of Mary appearing to children in Lourdes, where she became known as Our Lady of Lourdes, Mother to all children. I wanted that deeply, her to appear to me like that.
At the time of the Visitation Mary and Elizabeth are both pregnant, expecting children under challenging circumstances, one unwed, and the other in advanced age. Together they embrace the joy and uncertainty of pregnancy, such a profound life event. The angel Gabriel visits each couple to tell them about the child within, one to be named Jesus the other to be John. Together I imagine, they celebrated their joy at the holy life growing within them. I imagine they shared their dreams for their children, for their families as well as shared their fears at becoming mothers, their doubts, and spoke about how God and the Holy Spirit would guide them through this passage into motherhood under the circumstances they each found themselves.
How do you support your women friends as they enter this sacred time of pregnancy, of expecting, of active holy waiting?
How do you welcome new life in yourself and in others?
How do you hold that which is forming with gentle strength?
Reflecting on this now as a mother to three sons it is an invitation to rediscover Mary and Elizabeth, mothers to precociously holy boys. I deeply cherish my women friends, my own mother, my sister, my women cousins, I cherish them as we raise our children together, grappling with hopes and worries, celebrating milestones, holding each others hearts as they are stretched by the invitation of children to hold them close enough to give them roots, and love them deep enough to give them wings to fly on their own, to live out their greatest potential. As Francis de Sales says, “To be who they are and to be that perfectly well.” The sisters of North Minneapolis are mothers to many, to women raising children in the neighborhood, to the children themselves through picnics, birthdays, karate lessons, to a safe harbor of being a prayerful presence in North Minneapolis.
How do you support your relationship with your own mother?
Might Mary and Elizabeth be a model for how you mother yourself? For how you mother others by being in relationship, in friendship with other women raising our children together across the homes, the miles that physically separate us, how are our hearts united for our children?
Are you or someone you know called to join this joyous, urban monastic community and mother in this innovative way that is steeped in 400 years of tradition?
Happy Mother’s Day this Month of May, the month of Mary!
Elizabeth Mary Eilers Sullivan, Visitation Alumna ‘93