I made my final vows in the Society of the Sacred Heart seven years ago today, January 30th. That truth feels at once like a blink-of-an-eye-ago and a lifetime. Perhaps both are true…
On the one hand, seven years is not yet a decade and on the other, when I look at all that has happened in the last seven years…well, at a minimum, I can say it’s been a dense stretch of days.
There have been many individual events and occurrences, to be sure. Travels for helping with different Society projects; moving; beginning the service of interpretation/translation; all that surrounded the life, illness and death of my father and all that those events required of me; so many new people; new responsibilities…
As well, through these experiences (and sometimes independent of them) there have been the challenges and invitations issued by both the Spirit and those around me to grow, change, expand, increase some things, decrease others, learn of and from my humanity, learn of and from the Love of God, the Heart of Jesus, and the beckoning intensity of the Spirit. I admit to having received these challenges and invitations with greater or lesser degrees of grace, depending on a host of factors. I suppose for me, though, the point is that they continue to come. It is a humble reminder of both my own incompleteness and the infinite Whole that awaits.
When I sat with coffee and the readings this anniversary morning, I was so happy to discover that the Gospel was telling the story of the women with the hemorrhage. I was glad for her company. For years, I identified with her on a physical level, having lived with a three-month long bleed that I imagined could be similar to what she walked with as well. When I was in Rome seven years ago, however, she became something more. It was there that I heard one of my sisters speak of the Gospel woman's hemorrhage as a loss of self; not so literally a loss of blood. And she wanted healing. Wanted wholeness. And knew that by consciously touching, encountering, Jesus, the wound would heal and strength would return. A touch of the hem changed her…and Jesus knew it too. Out of the whole crowd of people jostling, pressing, clamoring for attention, he knew of a woman who was tired of wandering, tired of hiding, tired of aching…and who wanted to be touched, healed, freed.
Oh, there is a part of me that that understands that too.
And I am grateful for her company each time when I need to touch the hem of Love yet again, when I need to consciously draw near and be seen, felt, in my incompleteness by the one who is and who contains the wondrous infinite Whole. Wanting to do it has its place too, though I do use the word need freely and intentionally. It has to do with a restoration of self-dignity, a sense of personal freedom, a desire to stand in the wind and have the strength to stay upright.
Going back into that crowd has happened over and again these last seven years. In some ways it is getting easier. In other ways, it will never be entirely easy—and that might be a good thing.
No matter what, when we do brush by one another, I know it. And so does Jesus. And that will never cease to be a source of amazement and profound gratitude that helps me To Live and Love with Deep Joy. (The name of my Probation group—the sisters who were together in Rome for five months and who all made their vows seven years ago today).