Early last Sunday morning Sister Carol and I drove to Albuquerque. It was a beautiful drive, the November cottonwoods golden along the Rio Grande, the soft desert mountains against the deep blue New Mexico sky. We had freshly brewed coffee and toasted green chile cheese bagels. As Elizabeth Seton would have said, “All this and heaven, too!”
But our hearts were heavy and like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus we discussed the disturbing events of previous days and our hearts were heavy. We were on the way to say good-bye to a dear Sister friend who was moving back to the Motherhouse. Sister Ann was diagnosed with cancer a few weeks ago and on Friday the oncologist had confirmed that it was very advanced. She had already determined to return to Cincinnati where we have a skilled nursing facility but the new information- and her rapidly declining health- hurried the process along. She decided that she would host Sisters, friends and co-workers at an open house on Saturday and Sunday. In her own inimitable style she called the two-hour sessions “the wake and viewing”.
The Gospels this time of year are all about the “end times” and the second coming of Christ. Today we are reminded that none of us “know the day or the hour”. Ann’s sudden illness brings back memories of my own and the great uncertainties of life. Each of us finds our way- and it is distinctively our own unique journey- finding little fingerholds of control even as we prepare for the eventual letting-go into God.
On the way home Carol said, “Ann is showing us how to do this with grace and guts. She did this for us.” I agreed. She sat in her living room and received many visitors, saying good-bye after good-bye, all with her usual wry sense of humor. During a lull in the action she said, “This is an introvert’s hell but I didn’t know how else to see everyone in such a short time.”
Guts and Grace. We need both for these days in-between the already and the not yet. The kingdom of God is among us. The kingdom is coming when we least expect. God give us the guts to love when it moves against our natural impulses. God give us the grace to let go into You.