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“It’s those gates”

A musing on what happens when you enter the gates at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

It happened again.

This time it was during the orientation of our newest candidates to become associates of the Sisters of Providence. There were about 50 of us in the room, half were women and men interested in entering into a deeper relationship with the Sisters of Providence as Providence Associates; half were sisters and other associates willing to serve as companions to these candidates. But all of us were invited to introduce ourselves, say something about where we come from, explain our connections to the SPs and tell what brought us to today.

We heard great stories from both candidates and sisters about growing up with the Sisters of Providence, of being inspired by the mission to honor Divine Providence through works of love, mercy and justice. But most of all, we heard that something had happened to them when they entered the gates to our campus and experienced Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

The person who was about the twentieth to say this, just threw up her hands and said, “It’s those gates!” She even likened the gates to Platform Nine and Three-Quarters of Harry Potter fame, the platform that whisked the young people off to Hogwarts and a magical adventure.

Is IT magic dust that sprays over you as you enter the gates at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods?

I doubt if Mother Theodore thought that as she extricated herself from a stage coach after a harrowing ride over corduroy roads during the last leg of her three-month journey to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods 172 years ago on Oct. 22.

But something did happen to her and she passed it on to us.

Thanks to spiritual writer Judy Canato, I am now calling that something a morphogenic field. (I know, magic dust might be easier to embrace!)

In her book, Field of Compassion, Canato lays out this concept, an idea she actually learned from Rupert Sheldrake:

Systems are surrounded by non-visible fields that carry information or memory from one generation to the next, thus making a new behavior pattern easier to learn. … the human person is a field of energy and information rooted in the body but extending out from the body, interacting with the energy and information of others. … human beings have the capacity to notice and attend to the kind of energy and information we receive and transmit. Field of Compassion rests on the conviction that we can become increasingly aware of who we are and how we influence our environment, and that we can and must make choices that are life-giving for all.

Canato explains how Jesus created a morphogenic field, even though he never used those words:

Jesus was about creating a morphogenic field, one in which love is the standard operating procedure and genuine concern for the other is the behavioral norm. … one that resonates with love and draws others like a magnet … .

Canato has chosen to call her dream for the realm of God a field of compassion.

Sister Mary Beth Klingel speaks during the Providence Associates orientation last Saturday at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, IN.

Those of us who walk these Woods and receive the energy passed down from one generation to the next might have a different name, but no matter. As long as we resonate with love as Mother Theodore did and draw others to this place and to our common mission, we will, in Canato’s words, “be a force of energy to be reckoned with … one that can give life to the whole of creation.”

So, thank you new and old Providence Associates, Sisters of Providence past and present, all you alumnae/i of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, co-workers — all who have shared and will share the charism of Providence from this beloved field we call Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

Thank you for being drawn in, for passing through “those gates” so that together we can be a force of energy to be reckoned with … one that can give life to the whole of creation. We welcome others of like minds and hearts to join us.

P.S. Maybe in my next blog, I’ll explain how even our alpacas are affected by this morphogenic field.

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Sister Dawn Tomaszewski

Sister Dawn Tomaszewski

Sister Dawn Tomaszewski was elected General Superior of the Sisters of Providence in 2016. She has been a Sister of Providence since 1975. Previously she ministered as a teacher, as communication and development director for the sisters and their ministries and as a member of elected leadership on the general council of the Sisters of Providence.

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  1. Avatar Dani Sieferman on October 27, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Oh, I know what you mean! I first passed through those gates in August 2011 and it was as if Mother Theodore had extended her arms and said “Welcome home”. And when I left, I was sure I heard her say “You will be back”. Any chance I get I return to The Woods, often to volunteer at the White Violet Center, and each time I feel the same peaceful embrace.

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