Taking a short step away from the One Year Bible posts on something that has been stirring for me the last few days. One of the “loops” I use right around my house takes me through the cemetery of a Franciscan Sisters of the Poor center near our house. There are gravestones from as far back as 1810 up to the present day. None are fancy and all are very similar – All with “Sr. M. “ followed by their name and their dates of birth and death.
As I walked through there today, I noticed several of them spanning significant times in our world including the one whose photo I have shared. Sister Mary Ferdinandis Schiefler – 1897-1986. 89 years. Just think of what she faced during those 89 years. Born just a few decades after the Civil War, the flu pandemic when she was just coming into her 20s, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, technological changes, societal changes, and the list goes on. I don’t know her story but I can only assume that through the vast majority of her life, she served God and served others. After my walk, I read these words from Sister Joan Chittister in The Monastic Heart quoting from The Rule of St Benedict…
“Is there anyone here who yearns for life and desires to see good days?” Then, not a hint of money or power, control or status, public acclaim or social achievement. Instead, the answer comes back: “If you hear this and your answer is ‘I do,’ God then directs these words to you: If you desire true and eternal life, ‘keep your tongue free from vicious talk and your lips from all deceit; turn away from evil and do good; let peace be your quest and aim.’ ”Chittister, Joan. The Monastic Heart (p. 142). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition
As I think about all the things swirling around in our world right now – pandemic, unrest, the war in Ukraine and other wars that continue to rage, systemic injustice, climate change, economic struggles, etc etc etc – I can get overwhelmed by it all. But my call is to keep living out words like those of St Benedict above. It is to live in this time with faithfulness, obedience, trust, peace, and above all…love.
And that reminds me of yet one more thing – a scene from the movie The Fellowship of The Ring when Frodo is despairing of the call that has fallen to him and his life and wise Gandalf’s response.
It is for such a time as this that we live. Is it easy? No. But it is where we find ourselves and have the responsibility, the calling, and the joy of being those who can faithfully witness to the world that God desires.