Monday, January 4, 2010

"Life is changed..."

Dear Friends,
Join me in thanking GOD for the gentle, peaceful death of my aunt, Rosemary Ix Morgan. Death came at around 7 AM on New Year's day - three days shy of her 75th birthday. Rosemary is my father’s only sister, my only aunt by blood. She is beloved wife to Earl and mother to my three cousins. I am happy for my Aunt Rosemary. She is free of a body that was riddled with cancer. She is free to become part of the GOD she sought with such passion her whole life. She is free to receive GOD’s love – full-force, unleaded and without limit or condition. My soul says, "You go girl!"

I kissed her “goodbye” on December 11th. My community enabled me to go to MA and sit by her side for a few days. We got to say important things to each other. I listened…cried a bit and touched her gently. Rosemary introduced me to her soul-friends – women who have shared the journey with her. I found them delightful, faith-filled and fearless in their loving. I guess the biggest gift of that visit – apart from physical presence – was coming to accept her death as the grandest moment of her spiritual journey. Rosemary was ready – excited even – at the prospect of becoming part of the Mystery.

Perhaps, in the telling of this story, you can begin to understand the special place Rosemary had in my life. From the time I was a little girl, I was drawn to her. I thought, then, that she was MORE beautiful than Judy Garland. Her contagious laughter and free-spirit made her a stand-out in our family. (I don't believe in "black sheep." Her otherness was gift - especially to me.) Aunt Rosemary "got me" and loved me as-is. What a gift! As I grew to adulthood, we became good friends – soul-friends, I think. Though her spiritual quest took her to many faiths, she affirmed my desire to enter the monastery and came to celebrate my Perpetual Monastic Profession. Her presence was a huge part of my joy that day.

The world is different now without her in it. The grief is intense. I am exhausted from the tears that keep on coming, even when I think I’m done. I feel the need to be quiet, to hunker down and be alone. But grace abounds. My sisters have been royal – so sensitive to the loss and holding our family in prayer. My aunt was a published poet which means I still have her words. Her three volumes are sitting on my nightstand along with letters and e-mails I’ve saved over the years. What a gift… I can "hear" her voice whenever I turn a page. Words were her paint on the canvas of an empty page. It was her art and her soul-work, I think. She was compelled to write from some place deep within. And what a poet she was! (OK... I'm a little bit biased.) I, too, seem to need words desperately. I can’t explain the clarity and comfort that come to me when I put one word in front of the other. It remains a gift in my life and a useful tool for the hard work of grief.

The Catholic Rite of Christian Burial includes a phrase love spoken by the priest. It is a solitary expression of our collective faith that in death, "life is changed not ended." I have never been more certain of this truth than I am today. But many lives have changed in her physical absence. In the days to come I will continue to connect with my uncle and my cousin. And I will pray for it is there that I feel Rosemary close…loving us all…proclaiming the faithful GOD who has called her to unspeakable joy. We have no words for what awaits us in glory. And, for the first time, our poet has no need of them.

Blessings and love to you all...

- Sister Vicki