Sister Tracey decides to “roll and trust the gravity of grace” as an SP novice
Editor’s note: Sister Tracey Horan recently entered her Canonical Novice year with the Sisters of Providence. She asked in her request to the Congregation, “Beckoned by the rich legacy of Mother Theodore and the mission of Providence as I have witnessed it lived in this community, I move freely and intentionally into this time of deeper discernment. I come as I am, incomplete and evolving, as part of creation, requesting entrance into the novitiate of the Sisters of Providence. I entrust my emerging “yes” to you, my sisters, and ask for your prayers, support and companionship as we continue this journey together into the grace of the eternal now.” View a photo album of the event.
Sister Tracey shares her reflections with us thus far.
1. How has your experience been so far, as a woman in formation with the Sisters of Providence?
The best and most honest metaphor for my time in formation with the Sisters of Providence so far is a rollercoaster ride. Postulant year is full of transitions as I was traveling to visit sisters on ministry visits, attending Inter-Community gatherings in Wisconsin, and busy with volunteer ministries, book discussions, etc., back home at the Woods. Oh yeah – and discerning whether being a Sister of Providence fits with who God is calling me to be! So, the first year has been full of laughs, excitement and new nourishing relationships, along with the tears, confusion and challenges that come with transitioning to a different way of living with a new group of people. My retreat last month was a great time to reflect in gratitude on how all this – though at times difficult – has brought unique graces and growth that I’ve never encountered before.
2. Is it what you expected?
When I moved back into Owens Hall after having lived there as an intern at the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice for a year, I assumed I already had a good idea of what I was getting myself into. I was familiar with many of the sisters and the way things generally flowed among them. What I found was that intentional community is a whole different world compared with doing my own thing and spending time with sisters when I felt like it. Coming to understand what it means to really be present to other house members – to consider how my actions and decisions affect them – was an area of serious new learning for me this year.
3. What are you looking forward to as a Novice?
Lots of things! Since we are into our orientation time, I’m already getting a taste of the nourishing prayer experiences and solitude we will have this year, which I love. I know it will be challenging to peel back the layers of “ego” and get in touch with the vulnerable core of who I am in God (especially since I’m used to being so “productive,” in the way our society defines it), but I look forward to the growth and new understandings that will come with this time. I’m also excited about our weekly Inter-Community Novitiate gatherings in St. Louis. This will be a chance for us to gather with other men and women in formation to learn about and discuss various topics relevant to developing our interior life.
4. Anything else that you’d like to share?
My prayer as I begin this year is to move freely into this opportunity for intimacy with the Divine. I know this is such a unique opportunity – one that many would love to have – so I am holding an awareness that, as we read in Scripture, if I plant bountifully, I will reap bountifully.
A fun image for this that I encountered on my last day of retreat was rolling down a hill. One day as I was walking, I came upon a beautiful piece of green lawn that was just begging someone to roll down it. The grass was neatly cut, and there was a seriously perfect slope. I got into position, but then came the “What ifs” – “What if I roll over bees or biting ants?”…”What if my trajectory puts me smack into the middle of that tree trunk?”…”What if there are obstacles on the way down that I can’t see?” As these thoughts came into my head, I laughed to myself thinking how this position at the top of the hill was so similar to embarking on the canonical novitiate. I could sit and think of all the things that might be difficult or go wrong – and miss out on a great ride – OR I could just roll and trust that the gravity of grace knows what it’s doing. In case you didn’t guess, I rolled down the hill. And it was fantastic.