by Presentation Sisters Annmary Andrews, NL Canada Unit
Embracing life as it unfolds, makes sense to me today. Earlier, the word surrender, letting go etc. remained in my head. I had left Dominica, where I have been in ministry with Mary Therese and Lynette, in 2020 March for my home leave, combined with the first death anniversary of my dear mother, when our family would gather together to remember and to celebrate the continued presence of our ancestors gone by. As I reached Kerala, India, the lockdown began due to COVID 19 restrictions. I was advised by my family members to remain housebound for the safety of all.
During these days of lock down, restrictions of many sorts and observing the sufferings all around me, I was forced to interact with nature. I had lot of time to reflect on my own life in relation to the acceptance of my lived reality. I felt called to embrace life as it unfolded before me.
In my life, I always wanted to embrace people and situations according to my own expectations. I found it extremely challenging to love and accept situations and people that did not meet my expectations. I wanted to have control over every situation and people who came into my life.
I was inspired to use the time given to me fruitfully, so I spent my time observing what was happening within me and all around me. I was also able to reach out through WhatsApp to many individuals and families experiencing sickness, challenges of many kinds and even death. A lot of my time was spent in the garden observing, cultivating and harvesting etc. I realized that all the seeds I put down did not sprout, all the flowers bloomed did not produce fruit. I had no choice but to accept the reality of what was happening around in nature and in my own life.
I became conscious of the life force, the energy, behind all that was in nature. I realized that I had no control over my own breath, life and death. The COVID situation today, is affirming again that I need to surrender to that greater reality and surrender to the God of love and peace. I was challenged to look at all that I learned regarding God, faith etc. in my childhood, during formation, and later in my life in communities. I asked many questions about God, love, faith and ministry as a Presentation Sister in today’s context.
I feel that we as a PBVM family, can make lasting contribution to the world. We can make a difference in the lives of people we minister to and for the sustainable development of our mother earth. We need to creatively identify and tap all the resources, both personnel and finance, and use them creatively and effectively, for promoting life in our communities and in the wider society around us.
In today’s society there are efforts made by scientists and spiritual leaders, calling all people of good will to come together to promote life, love and peace. Pope Francis is a great example, inspiration, and encouragement for all of us. Ours is a time when many are trying to make sense of their own religion and are striving for a spirituality that can bring meaning and purpose in their own lives and in the lives of those who find their lives very challenging and meaningless. I ask myself ‘what am I called to as a Presentation Sister today?’
I was reminded of Nano, who faced the challenges of her time with great faith, courage and compassion. Today there are greater needs, resources and opportunities for us as Presentations. The IPA webinar that took place was a tangible example of this reality for me.
I am reminded of the poem by Raphael Consedine.
In the face of fear, she chose to be daring,
In the face of anxiety, she chose to trust,
In the face of impossibility, she chose to begin.
To universal misery she opposed ministry to persons,
To ignorance, knowledge,
To disillusionment, tenacity of purpose,
And to multiple vexations, singleness of heart
Faced with failure, she held fast to hope,
Faced with death, she believed in a living future,
And a programme for that future she gave in one word, LOVE.
This COVID time when we are faced with many uncertainties and challenges like the existence of us as Presentation Sisters, the existence of all living species and mother earth, we have a greater mission before us. We need to gather all our faith, courage, strength, love and perseverance, in order to journey ahead. We need to make systemic changes to issues related to our own personal life, life in communities and in the mission.