Said Claire, about joining a religious order:
My comment in the last thread lined up possible reasons against joining that immediately come to mind. On the other hand, what would be reasons for joining? What difference does it make to be a secular Franciscan? Is it an alternative Christian support network when parish and family do not provide enough? Are they basically a community, like a parish community, offering one another mutual support to help live a Christian life?
You love your Church, you love your flag, you love your family and the perch you have made yourself at work.
But you spend your time carving out that diminishing space for yourself where you can live under your control and do what you want to do
You will not assimilate. You will not give it all up; no matter the money, the time demands, the fame and the glory. You still need a small spot to stand that is yours.
But you find one day that that spot is a dream. You surrendered a long time ago. Their ideals are your ideals; their language is your language; their habits are your habits; their opinions are your opinions; theirs; theirs; yours.
It wouldn’t be so bad to be a sinner if you could be one on your own, with some guts and a little flash. Your sins at least would be wholly yours and you could see at least where you yourself still had enough to be pushing against something.
But even your sins aren’t even entirely yours. You aren’t even that together. The mediocrity is literally that deep. On that black day, if you are lucky to get the gift, you wake up to the fact that you are dead and you see that the black shadow hides you from both God and from yourself.
If you manage, then, to clear the surface into some sort of diffused light, support groups and committees looks like a sucker’s game. No improved policy or new management is going to save you now. You are soil. You have disintegrated, far earlier than you expected when the priest pressed that thumb full of dust into your forehead.
You need to rebuild from scratch, atom by atom. You need something that is more whole than anything you have seen before to become whole yourself again. Associations, collectives, parishes, seminars just won’t do it any more.
Before, the ants looked like people. Now the people (and you are one of them) look like ants. You might just stumble into the right place, God willing.
But then again, you might not.
Something tells you that God didn’t reach in and pull you out of the shit so that you could join a club. God wants you to go deep this time. Should you board the Ark with Opus Dei? Should you hang in prayer with the Hounds of God? It’s your life that you have and a short time left to find yourself a home. Listen, push, read, ask harder, knock harder, listen again. Find something you can integrate yourself into. Find that place that your discouragement says does not exist.