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Archive for November, 2009

Guts and Grace

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.

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Border Mass

Yesterday, November 2, on the Feast of All Souls I was able to go to the fence at the U.S.-Mexico border for the annual Mass in memory of those who have died trying to immigrate. As usual the celebration was bittersweet. As Bishop Ramirez of Las Cruces proclaimed in the opening moments of the liturgy, “God knows no borders. Here we have two tables but just one altar for our Eucharist.” And yet there is the fifteen foot (or more) fence that divides us, permitting only fingertips to touch at the sign of peace. And this year the U.S. Border Patrol had officers standing every ten feet along the fence, almost to the altar itself, marking a no-man’s land between the U.S. congregation and the border.

Of course everyone visited through the fence before and after Mass. Many tears were shed as friends and families felt the physical separation.

“How is it possible to live as though there is no border?” This is the question I ask myself as I reflect on the experience. What can I do to resist everything that would have me forget my essential connection to those who live on the other side? Crossing over to Anapra a time or two each week helps me to remember. But what more can I do? Of course I can advocate for immigration reform. I do what I can to respond to the needs of immigrants on this side. But there is something powerful waiting and wanting to be done. In every decision and choice can I try to be aware of its impact on my family just across the border? Can I vision this place without a fence high enough or a river wide enough to keep my heart, mind and spirit from feeling what goes on – this side or that- as my own? Can I strive to see as God sees, without borders? border Mass

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