“I also know that I and many of my peers are in a vulnerable place. I will bury 20, 40, 60 of my own dearly loved Sisters to every new sister I welcome. And this not just in my own congregation, but in most of the congregations I know. I ask myself how much my heart can take as my circle gets smaller and closes ranks and another sister’s story comes to its blessed closure. A joyful time to be certain, a gift fully given, a life fully lived. May the choice of angels greet you! . . . may you have eternal rest.
“I ask myself if I have steeled my heart to the grief. As we move forward, who will hold our aching hearts? As we gather in ever more intimate circles, we are called to celebrate a year dedicated to consecrated life. So in this season of change, I am sitting with vulnerability. I am asking myself what I use to escape the stark realities of life. And in this place, how do I dare to hope?"
Amy raises an issue that I too have reflected on often. As members of Religious Institutes of Women, we experience our circle of vowed members becoming smaller and smaller. My own thoughts have been voiced this way: “I always think that as we return from the cemetery after a funeral to share a common meal that we should hold each other a little closer in the circle.” I also think and say that it would serve us well to talk deeply about how we want to live our days together, pulling together the thoughts in this beautiful poem:
Living Wide Open: Landscapes of the Mind
I will not die an unlived life
I will not live in fear
Of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
To allow my living to open me
To make me less afraid,
To loosen my heart
Until it becomes a wing,
A torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
To live so that which came to me as seed
Goes to the next as blossom,,
And that which came to me as blossom,
Goes on as fruit.
---- Dawna Markova