Monday, August 11, 2008

Welcome back, Sister Gisella...

Sister Gisella Chinguile arrived at Dulles International late Tuesday evening. After a two- month visit with her monastic community and family in Tanzania, the time had come to return to America and to her four-year scholarship at Marymount University. Although I missed Sister Gisella while she was home, I knew that this time was precious. I can't imagine leaving my monastery to study in another country. OK, maybe I can imagine two months in Rome, but a total of seven years? I don't think so. Or, I pray not!

When Sister Gisella came to live with us just before Christmas of 2005, her English was pretty good and her heart was wide open. In the time since her English has become excellent and we have come to love her as our own. When I got to know Gisella better and we began to form a friendship, I had the fantasy of absconding with her Passport so she could stay with us forever. Further along in my own monastic journey, I understand the ties that bind a woman to her sisters and to the place that has become her touchstone - her "school of the Lord's service." I am in awe of Sister Gisella's willingness to go where her prioress sends her and her ability to exude the peace of Christ wherever she goes.

My friend is coming to Richmond today. She will remain with us until Thursday for rest, prayer time and a taste of Richmond hospitality. I am grateful for this time, for the sharing of our stories and for the laughter I'm anticipating. Though I rarely fantasize about her Passport anymore, I do know that our time, as a community, with Gisella is precious. May GOD bless her sisters in Tanzania for sharing this holy woman with us and teaching us the beauty of Africa.

Blessings and love...

- Sister Vicki