Monthly Archives: January 2012

Contemplating the Space Between

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

What kind of space (between and among things) do you seek or crave?

What kind of space (between and among things) do you seek or crave?

My cell phone is broken. Technically, the keypad is broken, as I have a non-functioning space bar on my pda. Whenever I go to send a text, or compose a post to update my facebook status, or try to respond to an email via my droid,  I am stymied. Allthewords andlettersandthoughts runtogetherlikethis. It’s maddening, I tell you. The experience has me contemplating space, and the way space between words and thoughts, moments and feelings functions in my heart and mind. Without space between each letter on my keyboard, it’s hard to communicate clearly. I think the same thing might be said for my spirit: without space between experiences, between thoughts, questions, and  prayers, I’m not sure that I am fully entering into my life, and the present moment, and “getting” the fullness of God’s presence.

For seven of the last ten days, I have been in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; this is a wholly different “space” on numerous levels from life in Minnesota. Traveling south of the US border to spend time in the Baja Peninsula, where the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez mingles with the white beach sand and our pink adobe resort, is a stark contrast especially to the spaces that the Visitation Sisters of north Minneapolis inhabit. The summer and winter landscapes alone inspire a  radically different mindset; add the economic disparities between the Pueblo Bonito guests and the residents of Old Highland surrounding the Visitation Monastery, and you have a wider gap between life experiences and perhaps more dissonance in your brain.

These are some of my thoughts as I reflect and pray this day, focusing especially on space, and the space between things.

On one hand, I crave and must insist upon these pockets of air and the widened proximity between thoughts, feelings, questions, and experiences.  When everything runs together, I too feel like a jumbled mess on the inside and outside. On the other hand, when I consider increasing gulfs between people and resources, I likewise get anxious.

It is in traveling, however, in getting away from the familiar, that I find myself even closer to issues and emotions of home.

Mother and Child painting by Gabbi Patrick

I was standing outside a fine-Mexican-dining establishment in Cabo, with my daughter in front of me, awaiting our taxi,  when a local woman, black hair pulled back from her face,  with a small child strapped to her body, approached me with her hand outstretched. The brown of her skin and darkened pink palms with black under her nails struck me. Instinctively, I turned my body from her; somewhere in my mind, I couldn’t get far enough away from her — her need, want, her request for something from me. I craved space between this woman and her babe – and me with my own.

Reflecting on this moment now, I am embarrassed. I am filled with emotion; deep remorse and sorrow couple my recognition of my own poverty, need, and want. The space between this woman and I shrinks, and I see her as I see myself: full of desire, full of want; hungry for something…love, peace, a greater sense of security? The very thing that triggers my seemingly urgent need to turn away from this woman and experience lies at the heart of my need to be closer, gentler, kinder to my own self and the world around me. These are the very reasons I choose daily to align myself with the Visitation Community in north Minneapolis.

For your Reflection:

  • What kind of space (between and among things) do you seek or crave?
  • What surfaces in your prayer and reflection as you are present to your own life, community, world?
  • How is your proximity to poverty or wealth, silence or sound an inspiration for your own contemplation and action?

I welcome your responses.

Join us at the St. Jane House for “The Help” on 1/29 at 1pm!

Kelly Schumacher. cropped

Kelly Schumacher, Visitation Intern

An Invitation from Kelly Schumacher, Visitation Intern:

We’re working on starting a monthly movie offering at the St. Jane House: a time to connect, watch a relevant film, join in discussion, and share in the sacred space that is the St. Jane House!

Our first “Movie with Jane” will be this Sunday, 1/29 at 1pm and we’d love to have you there!

I’ve attached a flyer for the event — please consider joining us (and bringing a friend).

To RSVP, or have any questions answered, please email me at, or call: 630-656-8762.


FLYER: “Movie with Jane: ‘The Help'” (Click to download.)

Happy St. Francis de Sales Feast Day!

Let us joyfully and exuberantly celebrate our founder’s Feast Day, and go forth as he encouraged, “to be a gentle and valiant spirit!”

God is in everything part two…

Written by Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan, Visitation Alumna

If we are to commit to “finding God in all things,” then this informs our discernments; our holy decision making. It colors our perspective, enhances our outlook on life, makes our life feel touched by the sacred, the divine. Our marvelous ordinary life becomes extraordinary, and in its extraordinary space comes forth an expansive humility that St Jane de Chantal and St Francis de Sales speak of when they encourage the little virtues as the road to holiness.

If we really take on this cloak of finding God in all things in our life, we begin to see patterns that emerge, some we might find life giving and others we might be invited to prune in order to make room for more life. This is noted by our interior responses of our heart. that if we stay authentic to the revealing pattern it will lead us toward more life, more love, and more generosity of spirit.

I can look at the apparent chaos of my life and see it as just that chaos. A slew of requests when I am getting the littles ready to go out the door in the morning. Or I can invite myself to find God in my mornings, and breath in the littles simple dependance. With this prayer on my heart their need for me to do, assist, help, or encourage depending on their ages becomes sweet like honey that God gave me these four gifts to nurture and nudge along in their growth from getting dressed, to grasping the intimacy of their loving God. The mere fact that they can trust that I am here with them through the mundane muddle of everyday routines to the bigger questions they pose, “Is God visible?” and be just as in awe at them buttoning their pants alone for the first time as the questions they ask, means together we encounter the sacred as we clothe ourselves in God’s graces. This brings me to my knees; I am humbled by their beauty.

What patterns emerge for you when you contemplate God’s grace flowing in your life?

Reflecting on Vocation: the Evolution of our Callings

Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde

Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

I wonder how each of our tales – and decades of life –  reveal an evolution of our callings and the hand of God in our expanding hearts and minds? –Melissa

Where are you in your life’s journey? Are you happily settled in a career? Have you embraced the angsty place that is an evolving path with joy, humility? Are you a 20-something setting out with ideals and dreams? Do you claim the confidence of a person in their 30’s with some experience under his or her belt? Are you a 40-something who is inching over a mid-life hump or realization? Have you struck a solid gait in your 50’s, riding the wave of career and calling? Do you embrace the vision of retirement,  volunteering, travel as a 60-something? Are you a wise elder of vigor and hope in your 70’s? Are you a contently animated senior citizen in your 80’s? Is awe – coupled with a weary joy and gratitude for life – part of your perspective in your 90’s?

I ask these questions, on the heels of recounting part of my own life journey with a group of neighborhood women last evening. Thinking about it all today, I wonder how each of our tales, and decades of life,  reveal an evolution of our callings, and the hand of God in our expanding hearts and minds?

What does your life story sound like in a short paragraph of sentences describing each decade of your time on the earth?

Melissa with Visitation Sisters Mary Margaret, Mary Frances, Katherine, Mary Virgina and Karen on her 40th Birthday at St. Jane House.

Melissa with Visitation Sisters Mary Margaret, Mary Frances, Katherine, Mary Virgina and Karen on her 40th Birthday at St. Jane House.

In my 20’s I made a bunch of money selling college textbooks and bought a house before I went back to grad school to become a teacher. In my thirties, I published and presented professionally, earned a fellowship and was awarded several grants to work with inner-city high school students; I started an organization focused on leadership and literacy in and through the arts,  traveled to Africa twice documenting and learning from people in six countries. I thought long and hard about becoming a nun and also fell in love with an actor, ex-con and heart doctor before leaving my professional life to clean other people’s houses. At 40, after selling my own home, paying off all my debt, co-authoring a literacy book and completing a writing contract for a research department at the university, I married and had a child. And now I blog for nuns.

It’s quite a ride, don’t you think?

Reflecting on my journey the past 43 years makes me wonder about each of you. What does your life story sound like in a short paragraph of sentences describing each decade of your time on the earth?


On Monday, January 30, the Visitation Sisters and their lay partners launch the fourth season of our “Following the Spirit” Discernment Series.  Twenty to twenty-five adults ranging in age and experience, faith and cultural background, will convene at St. Jane House to unpack their life stories and reflect on their evolving life vocations.

I was 32 before I opened my heart and mind to the possibility that God was inviting me to consider a religious life with Catholic Sisters; I wonder what the age and invitations are for other women and men? What full lives will they have lead before cracking open the next big question of vocation?


Please keep us in prayer. If you are interested in joining us, we have the happy problem of having too many people at this point. We will put your name on a waiting list, and invite you to pray alongside our discerners using the tools at the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research website, “Called to Life: Reflecting on Vocation.”

“God is in Everything…”

Written by Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan, Visitation Alumna

This was the invitation at this past Sunday’s mass to find our beloved God in everything. The priest giving the homily was quoting St. Ignatius of Loyola, but St. Jane de Chantal and St. Francis de Sales also firmly believed that God was in the ordinary doings of our lives and to seek God no further than there.

Isn’t this lovely and refreshing? Isn’t this what we hope to imprint on the hearts of our little ones, our friends, our family? That God is in everything! Isn’t this what we hope for when things seem apparently bleak that God will still show up, still be present, still give us hearts to see the graces of our lives at hand? Or in the mundane or the joyous that there too we find God. It is like an ongoing love note.



I remember being taught this, but it was not until I understood at the heart level that God is love and to find God we channel and find love that I really grasped God being in everything. I remember the day it really clicked for me, I was a sophomore at Boston College. It was a glorious sunny spring day and by that afternoon puddles revealed themselves everywhere on campus. I paused by one that earlier had been covered in ice, and remember thinking how miraculous it was that what was hardened had melted. Then my mind made the leap to God melts hearts that are hardened, and I just stared and stared at that puddle. My Jesuit Professors voice echoed in my ear, “God is in everything,” and the Sisters Salesian lessons from my years at Visitation came soaring back, and graces washed over me because I began to see how God was within me and within others and even in the landscape.

In this new year, with another fresh, fine layer of snow outside how is God that fine dusting on your life? How is God outlining your life, tracing your every mark with love? How is God in everything for you?

The Epiphany! A Video Reflection Featuring Brother Mickey McGrath’s Art

The following is the sixth of six video blogs that we are offering here this Christmas season, courtesy of Brother Mickey O’Neill McGrath, Oblate of St. Francis de Sales. Many of you will recognize Brother Mickey as our dear artist friend who painted our Windsock Visitation. We are grateful for his inspired work, especially this holiday season! Can you see the connections between the Camden community, in which Brother Mickey’s work is being shared, and that with your own community?

1st Sunday: The Annunciation
2nd Sunday: Mary’s Yes
3rd Sunday: Mystical Rose
4th Sunday: Joseph’s Dream
Christmas Eve/ Christmas: Madonna and Child
The Epiphany

Happy New Year Blessings

Written by Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan, Visitation Alumna

Wise Men Bringing Forth their gifts

Wise Men Bringing Forth their gifts

As we approach the epiphany this week, we wish you and all of yours the grace of the new year!

May it be fresh like the newly fallen snow.

May it be laced with the wisdom of the years that precede it.

May it be filled with moments where you are present to what is,

where you love what is,

where you grow to the next moment because of what is before you.

May your new year be filled with ephinanies of love that never could have been before now,

and that will never be again in quite the same way here after.

May your light shine bright in the world,

akin to the glow of Christ’s birth,

may you celebrate your blessings.