As a child and as an adult, I have always had a fear of death. I really had not experienced death until my father passed in 2000, followed by the death of my mother in 2003. The past several years I have been blessed to be able to sit at the bedside of several of our Sisters in the final days, or even final hours of their life. For several years I watched my eldest sister, at the hands of Alzheimer’s disease, die two deaths as it were. Through all of this I believe that God has gradually been revealing to my head, what my heart and my gut have known for a long time. Death is only the transformational moment of letting go of what I know while grabbing hold of what longs to be revealed to me.
In the past month since LCWR ended, I have revisited the keynote addresses given by theology professor and musician Dr. Chris Pramuk, and by artist, writer and ordained minister Jan Richardson. I have also read and re-listened to Sr. Mary Pellegrino’s presidential address. The theme of the 2017 Assembly “Being the Presence of Love: The Power of Transformation,” is a thread skillfully woven into the essence of these three talks. Each spoke of death, each spoke of new life, and most importantly for me they all spoke of the importance of the now. The present is a fleeting moment where I loosely hold what has been, my yesterday, while contemplating what is to come, my tomorrow. Too often I allow the past to hold me and the tomorrow becomes hard to see. By allowing yesterday to rest gently within my grasp, I am able to let it slip away so that tomorrow becomes clear and within my reach.
For religious life, I hear Mary Pellegrino suggesting that we need to loosen our grip on old ways of thinking. Religious need to allow the “diminishment” narrative to slip away. A narrative that I see draining the life out of a way of life that continues to have much to give. The diminishment narrative, says Mary, “diminishes us all.” Letting go of this frees religious to grasp hold of a new narrative, a “communion narrative,” suggests Mary. The “communion narrative” at this critical point in history, calls religious congregations to release our hold on the things that divide us. It is a call to greater collaboration and solidarity as we contemplate; “What God and humanity are asking for us today?” We are at a transformational juncture! Are we allowing yesterday to rest gently in our grasp? Are we willing to let it slip away so that with clear vision, we can be free to firmly grab hold of tomorrow?
– Blog entry by Sister Patty Kremer