Written by Sister Jan Kilian, this blog will give an understanding of what it’s like to be Franciscan. Living out the spirit of Saint Francis, we see all God’s creation as brother and sister. We, Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, are committed to building relationships and community, ministering wherever there is greatest need, promoting justice and healing Mother Earth’s wounds. My writings will give a glimpse of the compassion, spirituality, interconnectedness and goodness of living Franciscan.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Strangers in Our Midst

This June I celebrate my 12th year at Clare's Well. That's the most years I've lived in the same place since I joined the Franciscans 50+ years ago. The familiarity of neighbors, people at church and downtown Annandale is wonderful after the stress I've often experienced moving to a new place, starting over, learning my way around and struggling to put the right name on people. Prior to coming here, I have moved for reasons of education, needs of other Sisters, and the general call of my Community every 3 to 5 years; I must say being able to feel at home in a receptive place is a real pleasure.

I think of this when I consider families who move, not just from place to place in the same country, but here from a foreign country. How much more difficult their experience than mine when the language, customs, and color of skin are different. New immigrants have become the subject of my prayers and study over the years. We are approaching May 1, a day to pray for all workers, including the many we sometimes reject. I'd like to share this prayer I have adapted from a website for the Interfaith Immigration Coalition:

Candle-Lighting Prayer

I will light a light in the name of the Son, the refugee, migrant, undocumented Christ, who stretched out his hand to all people of the world.

I will light a light in the name of God who lit the world and breathed the breath of life into all people.

I will light a light in the name of the Spirit who embraces the world and migrates with each and every one of us.

I will light a light in the name of every undocumented person living in the shadow praying for life and a way to sustain life.

I will light a light of hope that will shine in the darkness and illuminate the day when no one in this country will have to live in the shadows, when we will find the way to welcome strangers.

God, you have made yourself known in Jesus Christ, born as a migrant, exiled as a refugee, murdered by the rightous. Teach us to love the strangers in our land as we build communities rooted in your hospitality and justice. Teach us to love as we would have you love us. Give us the courage to befriend one another. Teach us the words we need to speak as we call for humane immigration legislation in our country. Amen.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Home for Easter

Sister Deb died Holy Saturday afternoon. She had the best Easter ever, and so did I. The Holy Saturday night liturgy was a celebration of her as well as of Jesus. Exuberant alleluias were the music of Deb dancing with Christ, also finished with death. Our church decked out in a garden of Easter flowers would bring a large smile to her face, just as they brought tears to my eyes considering how she would have seen them. Her brother brought a "garden of flowers" to Deb at Christmas - a dozen or more flowering plants - knowing she loved flowers and probably would not be planting another garden on earth. Happy, happy Easter, Sister.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Living/Dying Lesson in Holy Week

Some of the strongest words are from Jesus, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." During this Holy Week I watch for images of Jesus bearing pain and suffering with dignity and faith.

One power image of Jesus for me is my classmate, our Sister Deborah, who is dying with cancer and who awhile ago shared that her dying is truly an agonizing process. Her statement of pain was accompanied by another statement of her desire to go through this process with as much grace and peace as humanly possible. This is my first experience of hearing a dying person speak so articulately about what is going on for her. Deb and I have previously spoken of our impatience with process. We'd rather have projects of whatever stripe designed and expedited quickly and efficiently. "Process" takes time we could use for getting something "done." So it is with some humor that she tells me dying is a process.

Who of us doesn't want to be in control and to be able to make her or his own choices? Deb says when one has always been able to make sure her own soup was served hot, it is a stretch to have to eat lukewarm soup. In the simplest things, there is little that is more difficult than to trust one's physical care to others. Nobody can ever plump my pillow just right either. How will it be when I can't do it for myself? When one's hearing is so sharp she "can hear grass grow," how is it to be stuck in a room with noisy people-traffic just outside your door? What do you do while you are waiting in pain for the next dose of relief? What is the inner fruit when you patience grows with practice week after week, week after week? Mother/Father God, into your hands I commend my spirit.