I have a great friend. We met in 1988 and she is a nun. I grew to love her very much though not my other friends. No five star general in the midst of a fierce battle can hold a candle to her, believe me!. People tremble at her entering the room. Others that knew her called Sr Gestapo.
In her gruffiness she was more influential in my life than anyone else. She taught me the lessons that not only endure but build a bridge between points where there is no way to cross.
She came from redwood tree stock, incredibly strong and perseverant. But being up in age, her bones were beginning to make themselves known. So when one year all the transfers for all the sisters came down, she was sent to New York and the rest of the sisters, up in age, to a nice warm climate. So I asked her, thinking that I knew more than her superiors, of course, if should she not have gone to the warm climate as well, and she said in a most brusque and loud way: “God thinks that the air in New York is the best for me”!!!!!
Not only did she put me in my place, but that lesson has been unforgettable to me, it has answered more crises than I can count. It has explained life for me. It has put everything in the correct perspective.
Our group of friends also knew a priest that was young, incredibly active, funny, and we all confided in him knowing that he seemed to have an uncanny wisdom rarely seen in someone that young.
Sister was becoming so very hard to take that several of the group went to father to ask him to go speak to her to turn down the volume of her aggressive commands and comments. So he did.
At Mass, a few days later, came the talk.
Father customarily had homilies that needed to be recorded. They were all spectacular. He would stand at the ambo and pour himself over it with arms waving and his veins threatening to burst. His chasuble would be flying about him, his arms gesticulating enough to create a breeze that would move the hair of the entire front pew. But this one homily was the best I ever heard.
He did not go to the ambo; he stood in front of the congregation at the foot of the altar. He inhaled and ….. promptly turned towards the side window of the church… and he said the entire homily facing side the window!!!
He began to speak about Jesus as The Vine, and how we are the branches. It was as usual a most captivating narration of that parable. Perhaps it was his plan, perhaps it was the Holy Spirit, but he began to describe the fruits of the branches. How the fruit is usually inviting to the eye, but is it sweet to the taste? Or when someone eats of the fruit of that branch is it a sour taste, bitter, leaving such a disagreeable taste in our mouth……
At this point…. Sister leaned toward me and said softly…. “why do I think he’s talking about me???”
I shrugged my shoulders slightly, looking perplexed somewhat….. but I knew darn well that he WAS talking about her!!!. He went on for about 10 minutes elaborating how the fruit we are affect those who come to eat of us.
At the end, he just turned to the altar and never looked out towards the congregation. That may have confirmed to sister that it was about her.
I don’t know if sister changed, I loved her before, during and after her crustiness, I don’t know why, but there was such a understanding between us even though she was ruthless, ruthless with me.
It’s been 15 yrs. since that incident, and she has hovered about several cities in the cold winter weather, and all the other sisters her age remain in the warm weather. Sometimes I wonder if they all asked she not be sent, so they all could have a peaceful retirement, which otherwise they would not have. There was a contemporary of hers that was also a close friend of mine but they were not friendly to each other. And when one sister would come into the room where the other sister was, you would see both their faces visibly crinkle at the middle. That was so, so funny. They were both so candid about their reactions for each other. Neither was shy about expressing their feelings for the other.
I carry her letters with me all the time. Without meaning to, she has given me the greatest spiritual direction with her short brusque statements. Among the best ones was how to discern what God thinks is best for me.