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‘Home by Another Way’

The Gospel today celebrates some non-Jewish learned men who left their comfortable routine to follow a star into the unknown.

The star led them first to Jerusalem, then on to Bethlehem and the child Jesus. They brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh; expensive gifts, but hardly appropriate for a new born. Warned by an angel, they returned home another way* bearing gifts from the child: simplicity, joy, love, and insight into the true treasures of life.

When I went to Ecuador in the early 1980s I, too, brought gifts: my education, my teaching and administrative experience, my faith and spirituality. I thought I was bringing gifts that would be of value to the people of Duran who lived on a garbage landfill.  With gracious hospitality they did in fact welcome me, and for eight years shared their lives and stories.

But like the wise men, I too returned home another way, bearing with me other precious gifts of gracious hospitality, gratitude for simple things, radical inclusion, and laughter, lots of laughter.

Have you had an experience of “coming home another way?” Just when you thought you were bringing important and useful gifts, you realized your value system had been turned upside down. An experience like that changes you, doesn’t it! It breaks open your spirit to embrace the wider world and values of our brothers and sisters around this planet we call home.

*The phrase “Home Another Way” was borrowed from the book by the same name written by Barbara Brown Taylor.


This Post Has 20 Comments
  1. My dearest Kathy, thanks so much for your writing. It is full of God’s grace. I love the part about the gifts you brought to the people from another country which you have learned to love. God has given us some gifts to offer day by day and it is precious to God’s full creation.
    Blessings to you always for your continuous dedication and love which you offer day by day.

  2. Kathy dear, And I was so blessed to meet you both as you were going and coming home. Thanks for reminding me of high energy days. Love

  3. Dear Kathy,

    Thank you for your beautiful reflection
    Which reminded me of my coming home a different way after seven years in Ghana. My suitcases were always filled each time I returned to
    Ghana, but my heart was overflowing
    With a deeper faith in God’s love each time J returned home.

  4. “Go and make a careful search for the child; and when you find him, let me know, so that I too may go and worship him.” (Mathew 2,8)
    And the gospel repeated itself when three BVM sisters came at different times after each one of them saw the star pointing to the New World in Guayaquil. Not only they came and brought presents, they brought themselves and stayed to work for the most needy. The men who studied the stars did not go back to Herod either, they returned to their country by another road. Life is not the same after you have had a personal encounter with God present in your brothers and sisters. Those of us who had the privilege to share the mission with these sisters, also have received presents that are going to last us a lifetime: friendship, care, and good example. Thank you Kathleen, Theresa and Annie! Happy Epiphany for everyone.

  5. Yes, Kathy,
    We have had the privilege and joy of learning in new ways. ..a different classroom:
    -the hospitality of the grandmothers in the projects who had 3rd grade education yet deep wisdom
    -the openness of the energetic patient, sharing Jesus with his roommate, both being inmates, was baptized by Fr. Keating in Folsom Prison
    – the delight of the children, dancing in the snow yet living in very poor conditions
    -the medical team who kept long hours, saving patient’s lives, or helping them in their last moments
    -the correction officer who wiped the sweat off his patient and held his hand as the patient died
    -my dear brother with cerebral palsy who taught me more than most
    and so much more
    Thank you, Kathy
    Mary Anne

  6. Thank you Kathy for your inspiring reflection and sharing of your story of returning home another way. With all that is going on in our world today and as we move into this New Year hoping and praying for grace-filled days I pray for the wisdom and insight to see the path I/we need to take to “return home”. Like the Wisemen and Joseph may I be open to the Dream-Spirit within and surrounding me.

  7. This reminds me of my experience over the 16 years (1999-2015) I volunteered in music ministry in the Catholic Chapel at San Quentin State Prison, just north of San Francisco. My experience, as well as that of other wonderful volunteers who came to worship there regularly, was that we discovered God was very present in that unlikely situation. Each week we left with full hearts and were changed in the encounters.

  8. As usual, Kathy, your words of wisdom come from deep within. Many thanks for sharing. Yes, often coming home another way has its challenges, surprises and requires continuous reflection on the God who is there with one all the time. I just need to pay attention.
    Peace, Marilyn

  9. Thank you Kathleen, your reflection is a wonderful addition to the others I have read recently on Epiphany.
    You make the journey of the wise persons more meaningful. We all have gone to other “countries” and returned home to ourselves as different persons. I am grateful for you making me aware of that personal trek that many of us have taken. May we continue our prayers for the Peace that our Brother Jesus promised. Elizabeth

  10. Another way home…isn’t that what we do over and over. Take another look and see in a new way , let go of unneeded treasures and go on lighter and freer. This is a new insight for me .thank you. I pray our dear America finds another way home after today. May we, too, have an Epiphany. Marjorie

  11. Kathy, thank you for this beautiful reflection , your sharing of your own experience of “coming home a different way”, and your invitation to us to reflect on such experiences in our own lives. Opportunities to share together some of our own experiences would be so rich! Thank yo for the invitation!

  12. Kathy, thank you for your witness to growing in challenging situations, We have so much to learn form those who have little in the way of material things. I enjoyed reflecting on other ways i have returned home enriched and dearly loved.

  13. Kathy, your experience brings back a similar one in Guayaquil for me. I recall with gratitude the gifts I received during 9 months of living and learning among the people at Fundacion Damian and Nuevo Mundo. The spirit of welcome I felt and the personal encounters I enjoyed have continued to affect my life and actions ever since.

  14. Thanks Kathy for your wise words.. Your gift of grounding your spirituality in your lived experience is a true treasure to share with us. Your recounting invited me to see the “other ways” life experience has invited me.

  15. Kathy,
    Your reflection made my heart and mind take a journey, too. . . sometimes on a camel where I bounced around in the heat and discomfort, as well as more comfortable ways trying to get “home”. . . a visit to your Duran, Quito and Guayaquil . . . our African American school in Chattanooga in the ’60s. . . with fifteen BVMs at St. Thomas in NY. . .with pregnant teens in the 80s. . . a sabbatical in Berkeley and more . . . all being urged on and invited by the visible stars, BVMs, who challenged me to allow change to bring us closer to our true home. As a wise old lady, I feel so fortunate to be part of this community and have so much gratitude for all that we give each other as we continue on the journey.

  16. Thank you, Kathy, for sharing your reflection on Home Another Way. I was reminded of a trip to Guatemala some years ago. I was a board member of Women for Guatemala. I visited Guatemala with a group of women interested in learning more about the impact of the United States involvement in Guatemala and how we might help support these women. We wanted to learn from them what their everyday life was like, depending on their wilingness to share with us. We were enriched by their sharing about their lived realities.
    What I returned home with was gratitude for their courage, strength, ingenuity, creativity, long term commitment to justice, gratitude for their understanding of concern for others in the midst of struggles, pride in their heritage. I came home another way, energized and grateful for their long-term dedication to justice in the midst of displacement, violence, economic poverty, and hunger and a continued commitment to Women for Guatemala.

  17. Sorry to be so late in ‘commenting’, Kathy, but I SO appreciate your sharing of your ‘different way’ of coming home. It reminded me of the 2 wks I was privileged to spend in Ecuador, traveling with Sylvia Martinez(associate). It’s now nearly 20 yrs ago that we spent one wk each in Quito & Guayaquil (with Luann, Saskia, Miguel, Cindy, Annie & the wonderful associates at Nuevo Mundo). We certainly returned home ‘different’ from the way we had started our journey. My life was forever changed by the first-hand experience of what our associates & sisters were doing/living in a different culture. I’ve since then been so much more conscious of the fact that ‘where one BVM is, we all are’ & it’s SO good to be able to be a part of the lives of others. Another time in my life when I came home by a ‘different route’ was when I started my 2nd career (deaf education) & when I came home from the university where I’d truly entered ‘a different/deaf world’ it was, once again, a totally different kind of life, & now I was really participating/teaching/living in it myself. Thanks for reminding all of us that we can prob’ly get in touch with an ‘epiphany story’ in our own lives if we try. And thanks for sharing yours. Love, Nancy

  18. Thank you, Kathy, for your touching reflection that enabled others to share their unique
    versions of bringing and receiving in our ministries. Yes, I was changed and learned so much more than I brought to Missouri’s bootheel those 20 years. Reading the responses to your words filled me
    with the loving outreach that we all shared and continue to share in new and surprising ways.
    In a world that’s swirling with negative energy, yours and everyone’s words fill me with gratitude, hope
    and joy. Gratefully, Mary Frances

  19. You (Sr. Kathleen Conway) taught me when I was a freshman at Our Lady of Peace High School in 1967. I finally wanted to reach out and thank you. You gave me a sense of confidence I had never known. I keep a little piece of you in my heart. You DID make a difference!

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