Last week I had the privilege of being with our Sister Marie Lee in her last days here on earth. She was 98 years old and spent 71 of those years as a vowed Sinsinawa Dominican Sister. In her active years of ministry she was a teacher, a band leader, a founder of a sewing program for Hmong immigrants, a spiritual guide and mentor to many women. Having been given the gift of a long life, she spent the last years of her life in contemplation. She read the current spiritual books on the “new cosmology” and willingly shared her deep insight into this new understanding of God in the Universe. When one of the nurses asked, how she as a nurse could achieve her tranquility and peace? Sister Marie responded, “By being yourself.” This reminded me of EE Cummings poem
To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day,
to make you everybody else
means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight;
and never stop fighting.
To have loved once with “a nobody but yourself heart” is a blessing. Sister Marie loved over and over again with simplicity and grace and her students never forgot her. The words fighting and peace are paradoxical words. How can fighting for inner self-acceptance be a road to peace?
Margaret McGuirk, OP