In the Holy Rule Saint Benedict urges us to “keep death daily before [our] eyes.” On Saturday morning, the Lord came for Sister Joan Ann. This unexpected departure has made us all reflect on the precious gift of each new day and the fragility of life itself. Though we are in shock right now, there will be joy as we lay her to rest on Wednesday. We will, by grace, be able to praise GOD for the gift of Sister Joan Ann and the gift of eternal life that is hers in Christ. It is the Paschal Mystery in miniature – loss, grief and the surprise of real presence and resurrection. I have new respect for those poor apostles who wandered about in a daze on the road to Emmaus. Hope, seemingly extinguished, returns as their hearts burn in His company. So, too, our hearts will burn with risen love as we return our sister to her true home in the heart of God.
The thing I can’t seem to get over is the witness that Sister Joan Ann has given me in her dying. She lived her last morning as she lived every other. Sister was up “before GOD” at 4:30 AM. She had coffee and breakfast in a darkened dining room as many of us had our precious Saturday sleep-in. Then, as she has done every day for the past fifty-some years, Sister Joan Ann gave herself to prayer. Sisters passed her doing lectio in the Brown Parlor that morning – her fidelity a quiet witness to our monastic way of life. Then, after giving the first hour to GOD, Sister Joan Ann went to her office and began the day’s work. In the blink of an eye, Joan Ann went into the arms of JESUS. As we recover from the shock of her leaving, may we be in awe of a monastic life well-lived. May we, like Sister Joan Ann, "prefer nothing whatever to Christ and may he bring us all together to life everlasting (RB 72.11-120."
Blessings and love to you all...
- Sister Vicki