Estoy en mi casa

In the Society of the Sacred Heart our preparation for our perpetual vows takes place over five intense months within an international group. This is usually preceded by an international experience: several months in a different province, often on a different continent, learning how the Society's spirituality and mission are lived in what is often a very different context. It's invariably an intense time in itself, for various reasons - such as culture shock, struggles with language and enforced distance from one's normal activities, comfort zones and props - but it can also bring profound experiences of God, and of belonging to an international community who welcome this stranger, who is also a beloved sister. 

The other week it dawned on me that, incredibly, today is the twentieth anniversary of my arrival in Mexico for what would be five unforgettable months, and a new adventure with God. Twenty years since I emerged into the late night noise and bustle of Mexico City airport, desperately scanning the crowds for... I didn't know what she'd look like, but... And then, oh joy and relief...! In the distance a small sign, bearing those blessed initials, RSCJ, being frantically waved above a sea of heads!

My time in Mexico was both rich and challenging; enlivening, multi-coloured, at times a struggle, and full of growth and discovery. And it contained several gifts; precious, completely unexpected gifts, embedding themselves in my heart and being. I have already written about the proliferation of poinsettias towards the end of my stay, and their enduring significance for me; but today, the anniversary of my arrival, I'm recalling another gift which began in my first few days as a newcomer in this new, unknown country...

Before travelling to Xalapa, to join my community, I spent my first ten days in the provincial house in Mexico City. Here, I was encouraged to enjoy being a tourist in this vibrant city, and to help myself to things and use facilities. Even so, I felt I needed to ask: May I use the computer? May I make myself a picnic lunch? And each time, the same reply: !Claro! !Estás en tu casa! - Of course! You are in your home!

You are in your home... And I realised that in English we tell guests to feel at home, or make themselves at home; the sub-text being that they are not in fact in their home, but are being invited to behave as though they are. But here, in a new country, a newly-arrived stranger yet also a sister, I was being told that I was truly, really, in my home!

Over the next few months I heard these words again, in different places and from different lips but always the same message. More than that, I heard the words from within, deep within, gathering layers of depth and meaning... Estás en tu casa... Not just in this or that house or group; not just in Mexico, or England or Italy... Estás en tu casa... in the Society, in this vocation, in the Heart of Jesus, in God... 

What a gift! To go to a completely new place, and discover, and know - just know - that I am in fact in the right place. To be able to say, quietly and with certainty, not just of this or that place, but of God, and the Heart of Jesus and the Society... Estoy en mi casa... And to be able to continue saying it, twenty years on, with increasing depth and conviction, and to know that wherever I may be, I am always in my deepest, truest home. 

Not surprisingly, today my prayer and my memories are filled with gratitude: for my time in Mexico, and for my sisters and companions there; for the generosity of Cor Unum, and for a linguistic quirk now indelibly engraved in my heart. 


  1. Beautiful beautiful tribute to our Sisters of Mexico,"estoy en mi casa", thank you!

  2. Lovely memory


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