Today is the Feast of the Visitation. Mary goes to stay with her cousin, Elizabeth who is also with child. God has done something wondrous and impossible for both women. Elizabeth has conceived in old age and Mary has conceived the Savior by the power of the Holy Spirit. Both women have been given the grace and strength to do something great for God. Though their time together was brief – just three months – it was significant in reinforcing for each of them the power of God’s promises.
Earlier today at Morning Prayer, it was my turn to give the reflection as part of our shared Lectio Divina. Although this story seems easy to explore from a theological perspective, today it felt very personal. I am leaving our Richmond mission tomorrow and returning to the monastery. This “visit” lasted four years - the first three before the accident and the last 10 months in its wake. I have very mixed feelings, which is not unlike me. I feel joy at the prospect of “home” – of returning to the place where my heart first heard the whisper of God’s voice. I am looking forward to the everyday blessings of the life – cooking, dishes, choir practice and a lifetime of Sundays. Yet, I am leaving this house aware of God’s unique presence here in my sisters.
The common life is intense among three women (instead of 30). There are challenges, to be sure, but so many blessings. This last year, in particular, has been total gift. Sister Mary joined me here early on in difficult days and then came to stay. She continues to be our presence at SGHS. I am so touched by her love for our school. Being here to welcome Sister Charlotte home has meant the world to me. We were friends before the accident. Now, having shared in her recovery, we have a bond that can’t be explained or denied. Love is a mystery and a gift – whenever, however it comes. I will miss sharing life with her and with Sister Mary. Each group of sisters in the convent here is a unique configuration of souls and personalities. In a few months Sister Kathleen will arrive and the sisters here will make a new bond of interdependence and care. It’s what we do – it’s how Benedictine community is lived out in the faithfulness of each woman to The Rule and to the Gospel.
Today, I pack the "office" and take care of some house business. Sister Charlotte will take over as House Coordinator – BIG relief for me and a wonderful gift to the sisters here. I know I will still chew on the gospel for today – still wonder at the friendship of Elizabeth and Mary. Intergenerational and faith-based, their love for one another was a reflection of God’s love for them. Great grace and joy came in their meeting and I know God blessed them both in their parting. Today, I pray a blessing on this little house of God and on the sisters who have been community for me. I will return as often as I can to support our school and its mission. And, when I need to stay the night, I know I will always have a place in this house. In his daily reflection John F. Wallenhorst gives poetic shape to the Magnificat. This small part feels like the song in my heart.
Love moves the mighty from their thrones and promotes the insecure,
Love leaves hungry spirits satisfied; the rich seem suddenly poor.
Praise God, whose loving covenant caresses those in distress,
remembering promises made long ago with present, loving faithfulness.
Blessings and love to you all…
- Sister Vicki
Original oil painting by Austin artist James B. Janknegt