Diane Enos, SNJM
My life began on the beautiful island of Oahu in the Hawaiian archipelago, which I only recently discovered is the most isolated population center on Earth. I am the eldest of three girls. My parents, particularly my dad, valued Catholic education and I attended co-educational grammar and high schools on Oahu staffed by Maryknoll Sisters. Through a series of twists and turns — some might say synchronicities — I enrolled in Holy Names College in Oakland, CA after high school. After graduation in 1966, early in the second wave of the women’s movement and one year after the end of Vatican II, I entered the Sisters of the Holy Names in California.
In reflecting back over my 50-plus years in religious life, I am most grateful to have found a life path and religious community that encourages me to stay grounded in the universal mystery of the holy and in questions that deepen perception and acknowledge the shadow side of life. For me, this encouragement and support has been crucial in navigating the cultural and religious turmoil of the past five decades — turmoil that continues to the present day and that I could not have imagined in my youth.
A milestone experience opening up a lifelong path was an invitation early in my career to participate in a small graduate program in Archetypal Psychology. My interest in the convergence of psychology and spirituality was deepened and has continued to nurture both my personal and professional life. My professional work has included about 20 years of teaching on both high school and college levels and the same number of years of clinical work as a psychologist in both inpatient and outpatient settings in Northern California.
My very early years of teaching young women at Holy Names High School in Oakland during the tumultuous late 1960s and early 1970s taught me not only that I loved teaching but also that I enjoyed doing it with a group of (mostly) women who were creative, dedicated and sometimes fearless. I found this same enjoyment being involved in meaningful work with a group of dedicated educators at Holy Names College, where I was a faculty member in the late 1970s and again in the early 1990s. In 1989, as a newly licensed clinical psychologist, I joined a small team of medical and psychiatric professionals who staffed an inpatient psychiatry unit for a large HMO in California. Here I learned firsthand the value of strong teamwork and began to understand, on a visceral level, connections between psychological wounds and healing. These learnings were valuable in my years of outpatient clinical work a few years later. Throughout my professional life, in teaching, clinical work and during my years of pre- and post-doctoral study, I have benefitted from the generous support and encouragement of men and women whom I now recognize as mentors but who were then colleagues, professors and friends.
Now, well into my seventh decade, I find that I worry a little less, need fewer dogmas and feel less driven, making space for work and commitments that encourage presence and new ways of being. But most of all, at this stage of life I am more grateful every day for the love of all those, living and dead, who have walked with me and carried me over rough times, helping to make the journey more gentle.