One surprise of religious life, for me, has been getting to sit with sisters who are dying – that very sacred time of keeping vigil. Sitting with a couple of our sisters recently caused me to reflect more deeply on what it actually means to “vigil” - to stay awake, pay attention and to simply offer a constant presence to the one approaching that very thin veil between this world and the next. To vigil is to sit with love and gratitude in the presence of Grace.
If true, then aren’t we called to vigil every single day?
At the sound of the wind, the rain, children’s laughter and bird songs, we are called to vigil, to pay attention with a posture of gratitude.
At the brilliance of a starry night sky, the glow of the moon, in the warmth of the sun, we are called to vigil with a posture of gratitude.
Yet we are also called to vigil in solidarity with those among us clinging to the margins of society, people who are dying - physically, mentally, and spiritually - as a result of personal and corporate greed, of racism and sexism, by the desecration of Mother Earth, by unjust immigration laws, by homophobic, xenophobic and gender-biased attitudes and policies.
Isn’t it our sacred duty to keep vigil with all of our sick and dying sisters, brothers and Mother Earth – whatever the cause of their death may be? May we answer that call with love and with gratitude for our own abundance, knowing we vigil in the presence of Grace.
Kathy Flynn, OP