ICA: Keep a wave upon the sand

Do you remember that line from ‘The Sound of Music’ that went “… how do you keep a wave upon the sand”?

That’s what processing the ocean of people, data, emotions, ideals and ideas of the ICA experience has been like – at least for me.

Coming from an academic and “start without you” business meeting background and having read, watched, pondered and prayed over the preparatory materials, I felt well prepared for the ICA meetings. Needless to say, being completely unfamiliar with the Good Shepherd process, I was immediately unsettled when I Zoomed in to meetings to find Sisters calling out greetings to various others!

Honestly, as the days progressed and I went from meeting to small group to breakout rooms (rinse and repeat) I wondered if we’d ever get to the point and when we would actually make a decision.

I would reread my notes for ICA and see concepts like:

  • Radical Transformation,
  • The New Story
  • Focus is on MISSION not on the Sisters
  • Formation as continuing process

Gradually what all this meant migrated from my head to the heart center. Not that I actually invited it! More like I just tried harder to listen to the other people, each coming from a different place, and a sort of softening occurred all by itself.

ICA made me realize that we all belong

Word choice during ICA wasn’t just about political correctness or the Grammar Police but about “it’s not enough that you love them, they must know that you love them.” International becoming Global made perfect sense. Things began to feel simultaneously more important and less urgent.

Completely off balance by now, I wasn’t sure what (if anything) was happening. The realization slowly dawned on me that the themes I had jotted down about our future plans had to be first about MY radical transformation, MY place in the New Story, MY focus on Mission, MY ongoing Formation.

As I met other mission partners, I gained a profound appreciation for the many others involved within the extended Good Shepherd family. The fantastic and varied unsung ministries the Good Shepherd Companions engaged in over the decades had a home within this community. We all belong.

It was then that a whole day of data and statistics were presented and that three paradigms of group leadership were offered – each complex but inclusive in its own way. Even when a vote was taken it wasn’t a straight Y or N majority rules but rather a third choice of “not thrilled about it but I can live with it” was included. Discerning with both heart and head – what an experience. I’d never seen anything like it. And it’s not over yet, thanks to COVID.

As the weeks progress after ICA, I’m still awash in the aftermath of interacting with so many dedicated others and realize the process is as distinctly Good Shepherd as our charism is. As for worry about the wave flowing back to the sea, it appears that some of it has sunk into the sand of my being. Wet sandy beach, wave or ocean …we belong. Thank you for the experience.

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Joan Clancy

Joan Clancy

With degrees in Medical Records, Gerontology, Psychology and Pastoral Counseling, Joan has worked in varied settings, from the airlines to pharmaceutical research to nursing home social services. After decades on college faculty, she continues a limited MFT practice. Joan encountered Good Shepherd while working as a therapist for CORA Services in Philadelphia. She became a Companion of Jesus the Good Shepherd 20 years ago. She is happily divorced with 4 children and 12 grandkids, and lives in Florida.