My story is a unique one; it surely resonates in every human heart at this demanding time in our history. It is a story similar to the stories of floods, famine, wars, plagues and so many other visitations of hardship that have walked the paths of ancient times.
Kilkee Cliffs, Co Clare
In my ‘cocooning’ days two images come to mind so powerfully that I feel compelled to share them. The first is embedded in the days of my life when ‘to be young was very heaven’. It happened in Kilkee when sitting on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the vast expanse of the ocean with the sun’s reflection sending shards of blinding light on the surface of the sea bed. The breath taking image, together with the sound of the gentle waves lapping ever so peacefully into the sand at the edge, filled me with a deep sense of calm, a sense of mystery, awe, reverence and respect for the Creator of all this beauty, all this serenity, all this joy. I left the scene full of wonder and delight in the power of the Almighty and His all embracing love and care.
My second story has emerged from my present years in the evening time of life. Again, it centres on the sea. As I watched with baited breath the powerful storms of the past winter in Salthill, I witnessed huge mounds of waves crashing against each other in quick succession. I listened to the thunderous roar of the sea as it bashed against the Prom. I prayed no human life would be its victim. Again, a deep awareness of the power of God’s creation, a new sense of wonder and respect, a new awareness of the all – embracing and protective loving God stirred my spirit.
Salthill, Co Galway
Both of these visitations of nature have been God’s anchor for me as I journey with the rest of mankind through this traumatic time. In the anxiety which the corona virus breeds echoes of the Galway story reverberate loudly in my mind and heart. Yet glimpses of my Kilkee image are coming through the darkness. The generosity, the good will of so many people, selflessly putting life and limb on the line do that others can survive, is surely heroic. The capable management of the situation on the part of the government, the dedication of the healthcare workers, the ancillary staff, the food store owners and workers, the watchful eye of neighbours for the vulnerable in their midst, all call to mind the calm yet strong presence of the ocean. On the other hand, the rising numbers of the sick and dying, the increasing number of the dead bring the paralysing effect of the storm to mind. With it comes the certainty that this too will pass because the Christ of Calvary died but rose again that we might live lives of love to the full.
There is a varied music in all our lives. At times it is a lullaby, delightful to experience as we live in deep communion with life, with family, with friends and with God. At other times it is discordant, when the storms of frustration, sickness, perhaps bereavement visit us. Whatever the music, the corona virus has embedded in my psyche one clear fact that we must step to the music God sends our way. He is by our side through it all with open arms. The present wilderness is our particular music now. In God’s own good time we will reach the clearing and witness the rising sun, feel its warmth on face and limb, see the flowers bloom, skip through the fields or along the sea shore. Above all, we will emerge from the trauma with a renewed love and respect for our brothers and sisters in Christ and a new sense of God’s loving design for us which He has prepared since the beginning of time.
As a Sister of Mercy, I am acutely aware of my privileged position. The loss of a life long business, the loss of a steady income, caring for young children are not part of my life challenges. However, a deeper awareness has dawned of how little one needs, of how much time there is at my disposal before the business of life ceases. Time to connect with old friends, time to deepen one’s family ties by phone or letter, time to learn a new skill, to appreciate the beauty of our natural world, and above all else, time to deepen and extend our reflection and prayer time. This is our privilege and gift right now. May the Lord strengthen us in our unique Mercy call so that we will emerge with the energy of the storm and the calmness of the sea, ready to play a significant role in our particular path on life’s journey.
Patricia Lee rsm
South Central Province