“The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience” –Emily Dickinson

An Easter Reflection by Sister Clare Walsh, MHSH 

A missing plane from Malaysia, a mudslide in the state of Washington, countless Syrian refugee children, school violence…sometimes our soul and the season seem out of sync.

Yet the tomb is empty.

Jesus' Tomb empty2When our ‘soul stands ajar’, we catch a glimpse of resurrection.  Resurrection joy is not simply the joy of satisfaction that follows a productive day, or happiness in scoring well on an exam.  Resurrection joy is experienced when our hearts are drawn to God.


When our ‘soul stands ajar’, faith may not change the story, but it may change the way we see the story, and that in itself can make all the difference.

When our ‘soul stands ajar’, our attention is focused outside and beyond ourselves and lifts our hearts so we can participate in the joy and sorrow of others.  Whenever joy enters into those who are in pain, sorrow, and distress, it is experienced as consolation; God consoling.

When our ‘soul stands ajar’, we notice that the Risen Jesus listened to the disciples’ stories and then named the story of God that ran under and through their story.  They were so close to their story they could not see the fullness of it.  Jesus longs to do the same for each of us.

open soul_2When ‘our soul stands ajar’, we recognize the fire that burns within.

When ‘our soul stands ajar ready to welcome the ecstatic experience’, Easter holds far more for us than we can ask or imagine.

If Mary Magdalene had been given what she desired, what she begged for, she would have been given the dead body of Jesus.  Instead, she came face-to-face with the living Christ and heard him speak her name.

What would it take for your ‘soul to stand ajar ready to welcome the ecstatic experience’ of Easter?

Easter Blessings galore, one and all!

 

A Sense of New Life

Background: On April 27, 2011, a category EF4/EF5 tornado struck Tuscaloosa, Alabama, killing 45 people and destroying homes and livelihoods in a six-mile-wide area in the heart of the city.  The hardest hit communities—such as Alberta City and Rosedale Court—were predominantly poor, black and Latino and included public and low-income housing.  The business district, which employed many neighborhood people, was also destroyed. In total, an estimated 7,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed.

 FEMA, the Red Cross, Catholic Social Services and state and local government agencies were on the scene assisting the victims, many of whom were homeless.  But for undocumented Latinos, and households sheltering them, the “establishment” agencies were not an option.  The people feared future investigation by the INS if they sought help from mainstream organizations.  (This occurred following Hurricane Katrina.)

 These Latinos, as well as others in the poor neighborhoods, turned to the nearest Catholic Church—Holy Spirit Parish—and Sister Celeste Burgos, MHSH, who is Pastoral Associate for the Hispanic Community.

By Sister Celeste Burgos, MHSH

Rosedale Court destruction

Alabama is noted for its tornadoes, but it has never experienced a tornado of this magnitude.  It is ironic that this happened during the first week after Easter, because Easter means rebirth, and suddenly there was total devastation and death.  It was a very sad and very traumatic thing, but at the same time, out of that chaos a sense of new life has arisen in the people who were affected.

The people came to the church, telling us that they had lost their homes, all their possessions and that the only things they had were the clothes they were wearing.

They lost loved ones; they all knew someone who had died and people who were in the  hospital.  All of this grief affected them; it affected me, also, as I listened to the stories of every person who came for help.

But something else affected me, too.  The parish hall was set up as an emergency shelter, where about 200 people spent the night.  They gathered together as a family to help one another.  People who were not affected by the tornado came; they shared food, clothes, everything that they had.

The unity there so impressed me.  We had Hispanics, African Americans as well as Anglos—everyone came.  There were people from other parishes and other religious groups that came to help.  This was a beautiful experience that has stayed in my mind and my heart.