Walking in the Winter Wonderland
By Sister Martha Westwater
Morning mists rise from the waters of Bedford Basin and from the fields of Wellesley Hills. The flowers are dying in the gardens and the birds come less frequently to sip from the sparkling fount. Fall is passing warmly and we fear the cold of winter. Like all the seasons winter has its gentle duality. We rejoice in the beauty of falling snow which hides ugliness; yet that same snow turns to ice and gives us dangerous, slippery roads. When we freeze while clearing our snow-banked cars, we seek warmth in our welcoming homes. In the midst of a golden autumn, for us Sisters of Charity facing the winter of 2022-23, the Completion Committee has presented us with a winter-awareness, a “bare bones” chart preparing us for Completion. The harvest is being gathered in; only a few workers remain in the fields.
The chart illustrates the passage of time and of our major gatherings as we approach the eventual Completion of our Congregation. What a wonderland of mystery, grace and vision is this winter passage. However, we must acclimatize ourselves, individually and collectively, as we take this last journey together.
The colorful Chart/ Roadmap outlines the passage of the seasons and of the years; it also illustrates the work that must be done in consultation with professionals with specific expertise. The cold fact of the matter is that these chilling decisions include financial matters, disposition of properties, canonical requirements, and other bitter areas that no doubt will arise in the coming years, but has not the invitation to travel to unknown territories been part of our lived experience?
More subtly, small footprints on the chart illustrate the steps being taken as we undertake this journey together. These footprints also suggest a going inside ourselves, keeping to the narrow path as outlined on the roadmap. They also remind us that we were given a spiritual blueprint for this our last pilgrimage in our 2020 Chapter Prayer when we felt loved and energized by the One who calls; heard the cries of the poor, and embraced our own vulnerabilities. Furthermore, these tiny, individual footprints express our “self-offering to God,” as we made “vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.” It is by our religious profession that we were united “in community through love” and “spend ourselves for others (Constitutions 11). Am I rooted enough in my vocation and my identity in God to risk grieving what is no more?
So as we journey towards completion, let us walk more intentionally as we strive to live out our consecration. Over the past fifty years we brought to this winter excursion vast experiences dealing with profound change, loss, and transformation within our congregation, religious life, and within society. We will do our best to follow the footprints which are always going forward. We will keep an optimistic spirit; be simple and honest in our contemplative-circle sharings and, above all, will live “in complete abandonment to the Father/ that all might have life, and have it to the full” (Constitutions, 8).