When to keep going
      … and when to stop

We sisters had good lessons in persistence and prudence late Monday afternoon, when a fierce thunderstorm passed through Travelers Rest.

We also had the opportunity to give thanks once again for God’s loving care and mercy, and for the support and expertise of so many people.

The storm arrived just as we were beginning Evening Prayer. Through the chapel windows, we could see the wind buffeting the trees. Rumbles of thunder soon followed, and as we prayed Psalm 136, the lightning got closer and closer.

Our God is good, give thanks!
God’s love is for ever!
Our God of gods, give thanks!
God’s love is for ever!
Our Lord of lords, give thanks!
God’s love is for ever!

Alone the maker of worlds!
God’s love is for ever!
Architect for the skies!
God’s love is for ever!

In the silence between the first and second parts of Psalm 136, the sound system crackled ominously. The sister leading the prayers took off her microphone. We continued praying.

Split in two the Reed Sea!
God’s love is for ever!
Led Israel across!
God’s love is for ever!

Lightning struck close by; the flash and a loud crack occurred almost simultaneously. We all jumped, pausing midverse for a second. And then we continued the timeless rhythm of praying the psalms, choir by choir.

Remembered our distress!
God’s love is for ever!
Kept us from defeat!
God’s love is for ever!
God feeds all living things!
God’s love is for ever!
God in heaven, be thanked!
God’s love is for ever!

We began praying the canticle from the first chapter of Ephesians:

Bless God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who blessed us from heaven through Christ with every blessing of the Spirit.

We never finished. Midway through the first verse, there was a loud crash that stunned us to silence. Then the fire alarm went off.

I have never seen Poor Clares move so fast.

Persistence is important in religious life. A sister, brother, or priest needs to practice persistence daily, in small things and great. Come what may, one needs to remain faithful to praying the Liturgy of the Hours and fulfilling one’s vows. Faithfulness in small things helps us to remain faithful in larger ways. Committing ourselves to praying in the midst of storms schools us in the practice of remaining faithful to God, of keeping thanks and praise on our lips and love in our hearts. God teaches us, moment by moment, as we persist in prayer.

While it’s important to stay the course, sometimes you do need to change tack. God can make the direction very clear, as we were reminded Monday afternoon! When the fire alarms go off in our lives, we listen and act.

The good news is that the lightning rods on our roof did their job. The fire was small and confined to a mechanical room; it quickly went out. We were all safe. While there was some electrical damage to our HVAC system, it was repairable.

Just as we never cease praying, we never cease to be thankful for so many mercies and for such goodness and support from others. To our long list of people for whom we are thankful, we add the wonderful firemen from Travelers Rest and North Greenville, who came out in the storm, the good folks who recommended and installed our lightning rods, and the hardworking professionals who checked our fire-prevention system and repaired the HVAC system. Your Poor Clare sisters are grateful!