Monday, February 18, 2019

The Candy Dish

Someone said to me that “it’s all about the story” but I did not fully understand the deeper meaning of that statement.  I think I do now.  It gradually became clearer as I paid attention to the relationship between the candy dish I, that I keep fully stocked with a variety of sweet treats and the people that visit it.  The office that I work in is located in the main hallway of a small critical care hospital that serves a rural area.  Many of the people take deep pride in “living off the grid” and can be intensely guarded about their lives.  Because of the great location of the office, almost all staff, many patients, visitors, and outpatients pass by.  While not necessarily seeking out a conversation with a chaplain, the candy frequently draws them into the office.  Often, as each person pauses to make a selection, they enter into conversation.  Gradually as they continue to stop by, it seems that they come to feel a greater sense of safety and welcome.  For many, the quick stop for candy develops into a longer stay as they talk about their concerns, joys, challenges, losses, fears, hopes, and a myriad of topics that they carry in their hearts.  So, IT is all about the story - of our lives that wants to be shared. I feel very privileged to participate in this unrecognized aspect of heath care.  It is not cardiology, but it is tending to the heart of things.

Where do you find a place to share the story you are carrying?

How are you encountering the sacred in unusual places?

Linda Hunt, O.P.
Spokane, WA

Monday, February 4, 2019

Bitten by the Dominican Love of Study Bug

For the last several years, (since I began getting old) I have been enrolled in a continuing education program for seniors, sponsored by the University of South Alabama. I have enjoyed classes in Art History, Music History, and History. In addition to classes in genealogy, birding, and local aquatic life, my favorites are often those classes centered on poetry and fiction.

This quarter I’m taking a class on the Southern Gothic writer, Flannery O’Conner. I love her. Her works and books about her take up an inordinate amount of space on my bookshelves. So you might imagine that I looked forward to enjoying a chance to delve deeper with other Flannery fans. The professor, an Episcopalian priest, and I seem to be about the only people in the class who really appreciate her writing. 

I’ve figured out that one of the stumbling blocks is a lack of understanding of the concepts of Grace and living out what we call a Sacramental Life. Those two elements live at the heart of my life as a Dominican sister. I do stand up in class and try not to babble about how her stories are about the pursuit of mystery. And about how mystery contains both truth and beauty and is best understood, not through reason, but often through irony, ambiguity, uncertainty, and surprise; always hidden and insistent on the discovery of what is true about suffering/joy and loss/love.
And although her stories can be startling, they are also moments of hilarity.

You might want to give Flannery O’Conner a try, or call to mind which fiction authors call you to that same kind of discovery

Annie Henkel, OP
Mobile, Alabama

Living Life with Passion

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