Thursday, October 06, 2005

And it continues ....

As I mentioned in a previous post, cancer seems to have been flooding our community. We just received a phone call that the formation director described in that post died a few hours ago. 47 years old, in the prime of her health, ate all the right things, did all the right stuff, chosen a year ago to form the future of our community .... withered away to a skeleton last Sunday when I saw her, but still wanting to give me a blessing before I left her room ..... oldest child in a family of several kids ..... family having to both cope with her death as well as the diagnosis her brother received three weeks ago of the same kind of cancer, so for the past week they've been juggling who would be here with her and who would be in California with him as he begins treatment ....

When I posted the link to our Benedictine Life Weekend, the picture online is from 1.5 years ago, when she was one of the vocation directors .... it's not until you see pictures of how she was that it fully sinks in how bad she's gotten .... and yet it's still not real. Terence, Elaine, and now Tess .... none of them fully hit yet. With Tess and Terence, they were so sick for so long that we hadn't seen them much anyway, so in some respects I don't notice the absence (that sounds really bad but hopefully you understand what I mean). Elaine was very sudden, and I think her's just still hasn't happened in my mind. I cried briefly when I first heard, but I didn't hear in the best way and then had to get back to class, so that was it. Seeing her at the wake .... I kept expecting her to sit up, throw back her head, laughing, "Why, you ..."

I think it's from moving off the hill, and I don't like that. I'm not at the monastery anymore. And true, while I'm only about an hour away and I'm back every weekend, it's not the same. When I'm back, it's for meetings or classes, and I don't get to interact with the community as a whole as much as I used to. And I don't get to stick my head in on those I love nearly enough, and I don't get the opportunity to sit with them, or join the circle of sisters when we realize the end is near. I don't get to hear us toll the bells. I think that's what helps keep it distant for me. It's just something that I hear about, not something that I experience. But then I don't realize, then I don't mourn, then I lose the importance of those connections I've been forming. Detachment is a well-ingrained habit for me, and I don't need things like this to reinforce it.

But ..... I gotta get ready for school now. Gotta figure out how to make things real. Gotta figure out how to make sure I love the people I love while I still can.

Peace out, folks .... stay good.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, girl, sorry to hear that it's been so difficult down there lately. I think I can understand a little bit of what you're talking about with your connectedness to the community vis a vis moving off-campus. It's something I've experienced with the conclusion of my volunteer year and moving away from the Grand Rapids motherhouse, and also something I wonder about as I look toward one day entering whatever community I enter, be it Adrian, Grand Rapids or God-only-knows where. I remember in college, finding out that one of my English professors was a sister. This was before I was even Catholic, and the idea sunk in--I'd never knowingly encountered religious before--I remember thinking how odd it seemed that she lived alone. I know now different; I understand a lot more about the wide variety of living and working situations that religious women embody, but I'm still a little bit "haunted" (not exactly the right word, but...) by that whole "connected, but disconnected" in religious life.

Anyway, I've decided to come down your way the weekend of the 15th, perhaps you've heard. I'm all kind of silly-excited about it, and I was just about to email you to that effect, but this post is so sobering, it doesn't seem to be the right time to be too silly and excitable. So I wish you peace. -N

10/06/2005 10:17 AM  
Blogger Erin said...

Dear Steph -

I read both your posts about the cancer cluster at the monastery. I'm so sorry. Maybe the fact is that God wanted these sisters with Him. I've observed that sometimes suffering is a part of life. Some people suffer more than others. Some suffer because of their own sins. Some suffer because someone else sinned. Sometimes we suffer because we are mortals. We often don't know why we or a loved one must suffer. I'm impressed by the statement in Isaiah 25:8. "He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it."

So you will miss your friends, but you know they did their best to obey the Lord. So they are with Him. And in the eternal scheme of things it will be but a moment before we are all there together to compare notes and hug one another.

Perhaps all this illness explains why there has been almost no activity in the Talk area at The Dome. I've posted there probably more words than anyone else, and gotten almost no comments.



10/19/2005 6:36 PM  

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