Thursday, June 9, 2011

Between here and there...

In the days between the Ascension and Pentecost, the scriptures invite us into the intimate space between Father and Son. The “farewell discourse”, John 14-17, reveals Jesus’ hopes and dreams for his friends. Conscious that his time among them in the flesh is coming to an end, Jesus prays for the disciples – and for us. This prayer reveals the depth of his faith and gives us a glimpse of the mysterious unity within the Godhead. “May they be one as we are one.” In this long, sometimes meandering prayer, we can learn the meaning of real obedience. “I glorified you on earth,” Jesus says, “by accomplishing the work you gave me to do.” It’s that simple. You and I – unique persons by God’s design – have something to do here – something that nudges the kingdom toward fullness. Only we can do this thing. And in that comes true peace and deep joy.

I love being inside Jesus’ head. I love hearing what was on his heart. I even love that he kind of rambles. (I stop myself every now and then from assaulting God with my words.) But his words are all blessing. His words assure us that we are precious to him. “Father, they are your gift to me.” I suspect most people don’t feel like God’s gift to Jesus. How wonderful to hear him say those words!

Another comfort in the “farewell discourse” is Jesus’ experience of transition. He is still with them but keenly aware that he will be returning to the Father. It is a liminal moment – one foot on earth and a soul longing for heaven. Grace comes when we are on the threshold of something new and wondrous. If you’ve ever sat with a dying friend, you know what I mean. Grace makes us aware that God is nearer than flesh on our bone. Grace comes and carries us over. Grace – Love – beckons us home.

In Jesus’ farewell prayer we learn that we are designed with purpose, gift to Jesus and on our way home.

Blessings and love to you all...

- Sister Vicki

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Five sisters celebrate...

Left to right: Sister Henry Marie, Sister Mary Patricia, Sister Anne Marie, Sister Miki
Seated at right: Sister Anita

The profession formulas of five Benedictine women were placed on our altar - again. Between them, two-hundred and sixty years of fidelity to the monastic way of life. Our Gathering Space was filled with gifts and flowers from friends, family and sisters - small tokens of love and gratitude for staying on the path of God's commandments. Each sister raised her hands three times offering her life to God as she did on the day of her perpetual profession. Together they sang the ancient words: Receive me, O God, as you have promised that I may life. Do not disappoint me in my hope.

Flowers, festive dress and glorious music marked the day as sacred. My promises are still so was gift to see that the life brings each of us to wisdom and holiness inasmuch as we are willing to accept the graces along the way. Whether 25, 50, 60 or 75 years, these five women of faith have in common an ever-deepening hunger for God and a determination reach the goal of eternal joy. Joyful tears, a bit of laughter and deep awe - these were the gifts blessed and broken. Sorrows remembered and empty places acknowledged - the cup taken and shared. In each one of us is all of us. When we celebrate jubilee, we remember that God is with us and walks each of us into a future of blessing.

Sister Anita Sherwood, OSB, made her profession 75 years ago! We were so happy that she was able to enjoy her special day. We welcomed over 200 to our table. Among our guests and sisters were 14 graduates of Saint Gertrude High School - our private secondary school for young women in Richmond. They gathered around Sister Anita who was principal to nearly all of them!

Family and good friends were the best gift of all for our five jubilarians. Remarking on her 75 years of professed monastic life, Sister Anita was heard saying, "I think I'll stay."

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