Being a Christian means living in the tension between being and waiting. We strive to be fully present in each moment, and yet we earnestly wait for the coming of our Lord, for the day when God will wipe every tear from our eyes, feed every hungry person, heal every wound, bring justice to all, and take us to Himself. We serve our neighbor now, mindful of our call to help build God’s kingdom here on earth, even as we yearn for the fulfillment of the Word and the completion of His kingdom. We live in the tension between “now” and “when.”
What bridges that gap? Perhaps a simple preposition: “with.” We overcome the tension between “now” and “when” with others, by creating, sustaining, and remaining in community. When we abide with God and with each other, when we fully surrender to God, we begin to see how He transforms the “now” into “when.” All God requires of us is remaining, fully present, with Him and with each other, embracing the “now.”
I see that amazing transformation taking place as I gaze into the eyes of Sr. Marie.
God is transforming her “now” into “when,” and she, who has always sought, embraced, and advocated for community, is drawing us into this beautiful transformation, sharing as much of it as she can with us, allowing us to witness it happening within her.
The worlds of the elderly and dying often narrow. As Sr. Marie’s hospice doctor told her last week, this narrowing is quite normal. But she told him, “Our worlds also become wider” the closer we are to death. This is certainly true for her; she is so aware of the wider community. Her contemplative life of praying for others continues through these last days, and we know that her prayers will continue beyond.
With. We are very much with Sr. Marie now, in person, and, as so many of you are too, in prayer. Yet our worlds seem narrower than her world, which widens more each day. She is with us, and with all.
She, the former college professor whose primary area of academic interest was community life, continues to teach us how to build and remain in community, living fully in the “now,” with others, until the Lord comes.