Imagine for a moment that you are at the Easter Vigil. You hold your candle in eager expectation; its wick, still barren, waits as an empty throne to receive its rightful king. In this darkness, you wait. Then with joy, you see the most hopeful light flickering atop the Paschal candle. “The light of Christ,” the priest proclaims, to which you can only respond, “Thanks be to God!” Slowly the darkness recedes as this one light is shared among all who are present. This light brings warmth, restores hope, and brings peace to the most restless of hearts. Looking around, you can now see the newly illuminated faces of your family members, friends, neighbors and even those of strangers – all gathered as one in Christ.
The monumental Event of the Resurrection, celebrated during the Easter Vigil, is one that has given me great hope in the face of this pandemic. The light being spread from person to person and throughout the Church describes my experience of community, especially in this time. Some days I have found my heart in darkness, thinking that it would almost be easier to continue to live out Good Friday. But something extraordinary has happened for all of us: Christ has risen! When fears, burdens and circumstances extinguish my hope and joy, my sisters remind me of the true, inextinguishable Light of the World. In desolation, sometimes I’m the one to blow out my own candle. My sisters, however, remind me of Christ’s Resurrection joy and do not hesitate to re-light my extinguished Easter flame again and again.
One day in particular a few weeks ago, my heart felt heavy. As I gathered some breakfast with a scattered brain, I remember saying in the kitchen, “I’m sorry, I’m just really struggling today.” Immediately, one of my postulant sisters turned to me with a most reassuring smile and said. “Can we struggle together?” In an instant, all the heaviness I was feeling vanished. I was not alone and AM not alone. This beautiful verse from Genesis, chapter two, comes to mind: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” In context, this is when God created Eve for Adam, but it is absolutely applicable to each and every one of us. Especially in this crisis, I need my community to keep me rooted in reality and truth, essentially the truth of the Resurrection.
Love is steadfast in all circumstances of life, and in this season, love gets creative. I’ve witnessed my sisters spend themselves in love through finding ways to serve the poor, carrying trays of food to isolated sisters, cooking meals for our sisters in the convent next door, making tough community decisions with care, incorporating sick sisters in our recreation by the ingenious use of the intercom system, and spending extra time in prayer to intercede for the world. As Christ emptied Himself on the Cross, I’m experiencing a new and profound self-emptying love in our community. Because all things have been redeemed through the Resurrection, this self-emptying love does not leave me empty, but becomes, instead, a source of tangible joy, peace, and uncontainable grace. My prayer is that you may find this grace in loving those around you, even in creative ways.