Mos Rev. Dianne Sullivan
I’d like to tell you a wonderful and true story about,
Sr. Doreen O’Grady, a Passionist sister, a friend and confidant and very Irish. Sr. Doreen was delivering a Friday evening service with her customary remarks in the small chapel of the retreat house, filled with weekend retreatants. Two elderly women sitting in the back row, were talking in rather loud voices. One said to the other, “She’s a little long winded.” The other responded, “What did you say?”
“I said she ‘s a little long winded?”
“What, I can’t hear you. What did you say?”
Sr. Doreen intervened at this point, always quick witted, and walked up the aisle next to them and in a rousing voice repeated, “She said, she’s a little long winded but thank God she’s finished.”
Sr Doreen’s spirit lingers in me as does the spirit of so many who have touched my life. And for each one, they have left me with the language of love.
There is a story of a wise old woman who lived on the edge of a small village in Ireland. She was well known and sought out for her sage advice. One day a young woman from across the seas, probably Hartford, came to her seeking peace. She said, “My life is drab and ordinary, nothing pleases me, nothing catches my interest. I am often in turmoil. What do I do to find peace?” The old woman paused and said, “My darlin’ there’s a path on the edge of the woods, follow that path. Perhaps it will take you where you need to go and help you to find what you are looking for.” The young woman agreed and set out on her journey.
Some years later she returned seeking the wise old woman once again. She said, “I followed that path and it took me to places I never dreamed of. And yet I still have not found peace. What do I do?” The old woman paused and said, “My darlin’ there’s another path on the edge of the woods, follow that path.” The young woman agreed and set out on her journey.
Years later she returned seeking the wise old woman once again.” I followed that path, she said, “and it led me to finding a wonderful man, a family and a notable job.
Yet my life is ordinary and I am often in turmoil. I’m certainly not so young anymore. How do I find peace?”
“My darlin’ there’s another path…..” But the not so young woman quickly interrupted.
“If you are going to suggest that I follow another path, I am tired of this endless search. I am not leaving where I stand until I find peace.”
“My dear,” said the wise old woman with a very long pause, pointing to the younger woman’s heart, “this is the path. Right here where you stand, not out there, only inside. That’s where you’ll find peace, in your heart.”
“But why not tell me this when I first came to you so many years ago?”
“Ah,” said the wise old woman knowingly, “You can’t rush a life.
This pilgrimage has no short cuts. Besides you would not have believed me.”
So like this woman I stand here in this place, in this moment speaking to you my truth: it is in this church, in this ministry that Spirit has called me. And in that I have found deep peace and joy.
So we have a roadmap, and the path is within. At the same time the vitality of the path leads us beyond our own borders, connecting every life form in one global body, where the individual nature of each life has a unique place and importance in that body.
Dr. Jane Goodall is a researcher who specializes in chimpanzees, who are most like humans. Their DNA differs from human DNA by a little over 1%. They share the same human emotions and their grief is profound. When one of their family dies, they too have been known to die of grief.
Dr. Scott Cloud Lee’s words resonate deeply, “God’s truth is encoded in every seed that grows and within every river that flows” and every sentient being.
When one suffers we all suffer and when one rejoices we all rejoice. We are all connected.
When a child hurts, no matter the age, a parent suffers.
When unspoken stories and dreams are diminished the potential for us all is compromised.
When negative messages are absorbed by the mind, we all feel less than alive.
Where discrimination is present we are all made to feel less than adequate.
When the people of Manchester, England and Kabul, Afghanistan suffer, we all are harmed.
When Mother Earth is degraded we all feel the impact.
When a soldier dies we all die a little.
We effect one another, from one end of the planet to the other. We cannot hide, we cannot pretend, and we cannot dismiss our place and need for participation in the mending and making of life. We are all servants of Spirit.
It is often said that the highest form of love is to serve. When Jesus washed the feet of his disciples they were hesitant, he insisted. He knew the value of this kind of vulnerability, the mutuality of caring and being cared for, of serving and being served. He knew the value of modeling this kind of undefended love. This was love in action. This was the model for comforting the dying on the streets of Calcutta, for walking miles for the cure, for giving freely your time and support, or your blood, or in some cases everything you have.
The life of the historical Jesus was a manifestation of the Divine Spirit.
The DNA of his Divine inheritance compelled and guided Jesus to reside in the clarity of a peaceful loving heart, despite what others thought, or expected or assumed. This same Divine Spirit resides with all of us, inspiring generation after generation.
Ours is a legacy of hope, of a peaceful heart, a legacy of commitment, stewardship, compassion… a legacy of love, the language of Spirit.
The question is what are we actively and consciously seeking?
Like the wise woman we know the way and like the young woman we need to find our own way. A life cannot be rushed.
Be generous with your life.
Be generous with your time.
Be generous with your love.