Isaiah 55: 6-9
Seek the Lord, now that you can find Him, call Him as He is close. Let the evil man leave aside his conduct and the criminal his projects. Return to God who will have mercy, to our God who is always willing to forgive.
For your projects are not mine and my ways are not your ways, says the Lord. As far as the heavens are above the earth so are my ways far above your ways and my projects are very superior to your projects. (First Reading: Is. 55)
What a message for the times we are living in. 2020 turned all our plans upside down. No general chapters, no flights, no free movement, no fiestas or family gatherings. This last has affected the Argentine psyche the most, I think. The province of Catamarca had months free from the virus but (according to a news report today) because they could not resist having their asados – barbecues – they now have a lot of people infected.
So, our projects have gone to the wall, or have to be pursued online. But we are given a new opportunity to seek the Lord as Isaiah urges us, and His/Her projects for us and for the world. At the beginning of the shutdown, I had an idea that I would have lots of time to knit or crochet, one of my favourite pastimes. Alas my fingers would not cooperate. Instead I have taken up weaving, spiritually rather than materially, inspired by a card sent to me by Sr. Kathleen Egan which has a Celtic blessing on it:
I weave into my life this day
The presence of God upon my way
I weave into the darkest night
Strands of God all shining bright.
I weave into each deed that’s done
Joy and hope of the Risen Son.
Call Him as He is close. I am weaving that so-near-to-us presence into every fibre of my being as I experience the sunlight each morning that makes radiant every single being round me, that suffuses with energy the cycle of life from seed to plant to flower to fruit. Like Sr Honor McCabe I say, “I am earth’s clay that has come to reflection… through earth’s living things all I’ve come to birth, O Wondrous Mystery!”
I weave into the darkest night strands of God all shining bright. The news bulletins only promise that the pandemic will get worse, not to mention the economic collapse that will follow. Darkest night indeed! How not to get sad and depressed at the inequalities that will be even more marked? So where do I look for strands all shining bright? On the feast of St Dominic this year 2020, our Dominican Sisters in Tucuman inaugurated the beatification process of their foundress Elmina Paz de Gallo. When the cholera epidemic hit the province of Tucuman in the late 1880’s many children were left orphans, and this good widow opened her large home and even larger heart to more than a hundred of them. Her light is still shining in the Sisters of the congregation she founded.
Only one of many examples of shining strands. We here in Victoria community in Argentina, Joan, Matilde and I-are experiencing the constant care of two wonderfully kind women, Mari and Estela, who every day come to ask what we need and are helping Matilde lovingly with her housework and packing in her last month here.
I weave into each deed that’s done, Joy and hope of the Risen Son.
The lockdown meant I had time to savour Timothy Radcliffe’s book, Alive in God, and just now I have reached the section on the Risen life, “Joy and Hope”. Even in Christ’s tomb there was hope. And the emptiness of the tomb, our being, is a prerequisite for being filled with God’s presence. Fresh air, breath of the Spirit. For your projects are not mine and my ways are not your ways.
For me the fresh air consists in abandoning my projects, hopes and fears, confidently looking only at the mercy of God who is always willing to forgive. Hoping in His ways. I sit and read, instead of flying here and there, driving up and down highways or attending meetings. I reflect on the mercy of God. I once read that the origin of the word mercy is linked to having two wombs… doubly maternal, doubly feminine. Can one ever get to touch the depth of that mercy?
I feel as secure as I ever did whatever the circumstances, and Christ will show himself even greater through me, whether I live or die (Phil.1:20 -Second Reading).
Sr Veronica Rafferty OP