Upper Rooms – Then and Now

By Sr. Angela Ann Zukowski, MHSH, D.Min

During this Easter season we, the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart, send you prayers and blessings for you and your family. Here we are, like the apostles, in our “upper rooms” -many of us since mid-March until today  – and most likely for a while longer.  How much longer, Lord?

How often the apostles left that room during those 40 days from Good Friday night to Pentecost, is not so important. They were in the Upper Room pondering and wondering what had happened, how it happened and why it happened. How the journey with Jesus ended was not what they imagined and hoped for?  In the Upper Room, they waited, carried on conversations, tried to strategically plan for what to do next. Jesus left no clear strategic plan that they understood with their imperfect, partial or inadequate faith.  I am sure they tried to support one another as one or the other began to flounder into worry, distress, or darkness.  I like to imagine Mary, the Mother of Jesus, holding her own amongst them as ‘mother’ soothing their fears.  Her faith was strong enough to carry them into the events they were about to encounter in the coming 40 days.

The Upper Room soon became an encounter with the Risen Jesus Christ.  The closure did not prevent the ‘light of the world’ to seep through into their presence. When Jesus suddenly appeared he understood their hearts. He first says to them: “Peace be with you. Do not be afraid. It is I.” How unbelievable those moments must have been. Were their minds and eyes tricking them?  Could it be he was there in their midst?  I try to ponder what their diverse emotions were.

The Upper Room was to become the ‘place’ – a ‘sacred place’ where the apostles were to enter a new missionary formation experience.  Here they were being tested and strengthened with a new or deeper faith and hope for the task ahead of them.  Jesus had promised his Spirit would come to them. The Upper Room experience was a maturing period for each one to reimagine their vocation/ mission.

Perhaps, as we are in our “upper rooms” (homes), this is what is being asked of us.  Jesus says to us today: “Peace be with you.  Do not be afraid. I am here. It is I!”  Let us rest our minds and hearts in/on the Risen Jesus.  Let us keep our focus clear for our mission.  Let us not falter. May these be days of new religious imagination, courage, compassion, and service to all those we are called to serve in a COVID-19 milieu.



The Lesson of the Recycle Bucket

By Sister Jane Geiger, MHSH

When I first began to work with clay, the instructor explained that we do not control the clay but we unite with it.  The clay will teach us how to shape it.

Well, in my pottery experience I have had many conversations with clay.  Sometimes we get along very well and other times the piece is off center, misshapen and destined for the recycle bucket.  Not very satisfying.  What did I have to learn?

In clay work as in life, there is a journey and a process and each stage is important and serves its purpose in getting to the desired end.  I tend to be impatient and want to get the job done and see immediate results.  But it is not like that with clay or in our life experience.  I learned this the hard way.  Clay too moist collapses; pieces not dried out explode in the kiln; improper glazing results in bubbling and crawling; and an interrupted cooling process causes (of all things) cracked pots!

Working with clay teaches many lessons, and I had to learn them all as I followed the process from kneading, throwing, drying, firing, glazing—each with its own discipline and all calling for patience, humility, perseverance, as well as a spirit of creativity and imagination.

There will always be days for the recycle bucket, but for me, as I learn to respect the journey and the process, I find working with clay my way of keeping centered and focused.
There is harmony between me and the clay; there is accommodation to my life and the stresses that come.  But more than that is the excitement and sense that God is working with me in my own creation story.  I take the clay of the earth and knead it and shape it to say what God wants me to say.  God is at work!  God is at play!  Clay is fun!  Clay is sacred!

Sister Jane’s creations are on  display at Mission Helper Center. They make great gifts!