Last week we celebrated the life and mourned the death of our dear Sister Mary Ellen, affectionately known as Mel. Mel was a great nun, "true blue" as we say in our congregation, a reference to the blue habits we had worn. At her wake we had a "remembering" prayer service during which Sister Barbara reflected on Mel's life, ministry, loves, and adventures.
I loved hearing about Mel, especially the stories of adventures I never knew she had! But what struck me most was when Barbara said these words. Mel had told another sister to be sure to tell all the sisters how much she loved them and that the sisters saved her.
What a gift to be able to receive and to give that message of love. We don't know when our last message will be, and so Mel's words reminded me that I have to do a better job at making sure ALL my messages are one's of love -- a challenge indeed in the weft and warp and tangles of life! For me, Mel's other statement that the sisters saved her life, points me in the right direction for how to live always from a stance of love -- I look to my sisters. One of the great gifts of being a Catholic sister is that I have my relationship with God (which we all do), the tradition of religious life, and a community of others committed to the same life and mission. I look at my sisters, even the ones I don't know as well as others, and I can say with Mel, you saved me. Of course we're not talking capital S Salvation, and while I don't know the full depth of what Mel meant by that, I do know that for me it means that my nuns in particular and religious life as a whole have kept me close, rescued me as it were, from myself in so many ways! My nuns encourage me and challenge me, always calling me to my best self and loving me fiercely all the way.
As I continue to sit vigil with Mel, dwelling now in light yet ever near, it occurs to me that Mel is saving me and us as well, calling us ever more into love and our "true blue" selves!