Perhaps you are familiar with the poem by Francis Thompson, “Hound of Heaven,” about God’s persistent love and presence; God who never gives up on us.
The readings from Sunday, August 17th speak of God who reaches out to all, inviting all to “my holy mountain” (Isaiah 56). St. Paul in Romans proclaims, “For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11). And in Matthew Chapter 15, we hear a twist to the story when a Canaanite woman, a less then respected foreigner, hounds Jesus, persistent in her faith until she receives what she seeks.
Perhaps the message is about persistence in faith along life’s journey, as God is persistent in God’s love and mercy towards us.
Some experience of persistence over the past couple of weeks:
One of our Sisters celebrated her 80th birthday. Her past year had been one of injury, surgery, and a long recovery that became amazing restoration and healing. A true witness of the persistence of life!
Two nursing students studying at the Congregation’s hospital in Germany traveled to the U.S. to participate in an internship at the Congregation’s hospital here. They persist in their studies in the midst of a lot of new experiences and challenges.
The Sisters are excited to return to their Chapel this upcoming week after the Chapel underwent renovations throughout the summer. For the work to take shape it took the persistence and expertise of many dedicated craftsmen and the patient waiting of the Sisters.
At this time many Sisters are moving back to the Provincialate as various other renovations and changes are taking place at other convents. Such a task requires the persistence of faith in the midst of change.
This past week the Sisters gathered to pause to contemplate together the presence of God in their lives – individually and communally. A reflection on fire guided the gathering: take a campfire or fireplace – the fire continues to burn only as there are additional logs placed gently at intervals and there is space between the logs for oxygen so the flames can “breathe.” So too do we need that space and extra fuel in our lives so we can persist in faith whatever life brings.
For the first time the Sisters’ art ministry offered an art camp for children this summer that was well attended and engaged the participants in various art activities and mediums. Such an undertaking requires the persistent dedication of the Sister overseeing the art program and the attention of the children.
The Sisters’ community garden is flourishing at this time of the summer and was able to participate in a farm market at the one of the Sisters’ ministry sites this past week, in addition to providing produce to the Sisters food cupboard ministry and benefactors of the garden.The abundance of the garden is due to the persistent care and attention of all the gardeners involved.
Finally, on a more sentimental note, a tractor that previously worked the many acres that the Sisters farmed years back has returned to the fields. While Sr. Eustella, the “Tractor Sister,” is no longer on this earth the memory of her dedication and enthusiasm persists, as does the desire to work hand in hand with creation.
It is new week! A good opportunity to reflect on how God has been a persistent presence in your life and how in turn this has given you the grace of persistence during the experiences of your life.