“It’s For Us!” An Epiphany Reflection by Sr. M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH

“Hurry up and wait” isn’t just a sarcastic Army slogan.  We do it often when going to doctors’ offices, and for our Sisters, it seems like it is the standard practice at the podiatrist’s office.  So I was not surprised to be sitting and sitting while the Sister I had taken there was back in the treatment area.

The waiting room is the length of a train car, and it is narrow.  So those in the waiting area sit facing each other with about four feet from knee to knee.  I was across from the receptionist, and a young man she’d addressed as Timothy was discussing payment options with her.  When it was settled and he walked toward the other end of the room, I noticed that his gait was awkward, like someone with cerebral palsy.   He sat down opposite me and watched as I crocheted a top on a towel.

il_570xn-594290918_rmjx“What are you making?” he asked.  I held it up and replied, “One of those towels you can hang from a knob or a handle on a cupboard.

“Oh, that’s pretty!” he exclaimed.  Then he was called to the treatment area, leaving his jacket next to another young man and an older man I presumed was their driver.

It occurred to me that I could hide the finished towel inside his coat, so I hurried to finish it and tucked it into his jacket, cautioning the other young man, “You didn’t see anything.”  He nodded solemnly.

I returned to my seat and began reading a magazine, hoping to get out of there before he returned, but no such luck.  He came out and picked up his jacket.  Out fell the towel I’d rolled up and tied with red yarn.  He picked it up and showed it to the others, a big question mark on his face.  “That lady (pointing to me) put it there,” said his companion.  So Timothy walked it back to me and held it out.  “It’s for you,” I explained.  “It’s Christmas, it’s a present.”  His face lit up and he hurried back to the others, exclaiming, “It’s for us!  We can keep it! It’s a Christmas present for us!”

Maybe he doesn’t get many gifts, although he seemed well dressed and well groomed.  Maybe it was the surprise element that delighted him. Whatever, I was delighted by his reaction and later, walking to the darkened parking garage to retrieve the car, it occurred to me that he had repeatedly said, “…for uswe can keep it!” Not “…for meI can keep it!”

joy-of-giving-8What a rare treasure Timothy turned out to be, so in union with his living companions that there seemed nothing self-centered in his view of my simple gift.  He gave me a much richer gift, and I’m still cherishing it—and him.

“Bustin’ Through” –A Post-Easter Reflection

By Sister M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH

Have you ever risen from the dead?  If you’re an overworked, underpaid, weary-to-the-bone person who nevertheless hauls out every morning to take on another day, you have.

garden blossomIf you live in the eastern half of this country and have struggled with and struggled against the winter of 2016, you may be rising again just about now, finding your grimly-set jaw softening as you notice the blooms coming to life in your garden, or shiny maroon buds fattening on a tree.

Spouses, parents and others buy into resurrection when we choose a bit of amnesia relative to last night’s argument or bedtime tantrum, and speak a quiet “good morning” as the new day begins.

rock garden 1Resurrection is more common than believed—unless we’re speaking of “Jesus bustin’ through them rocks,” as a second grader in Mobile, Alabama, once defined it for me.

“Bustin’ through” is what’s significant in that description.  Reflect for just a moment on what you may need to “bust through,” and ask our risen Lord to empower you to do it!

Aging with Focus

A Reflection by Sister M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH

I’m folding laundry and I come across the heavy cotton canvas pastry cloth that was my mother’s. It’s mine now, and I use it three times a year at least: Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, when I make a pecan pie from scratch (scratch and a lot of butter) for our Community dinners.

Pecan Pie 3pastry cloth, and learning to roll out dough on it, is one of my earliest memories. It was in good shape about 70 years ago, but it is definitely showing its age now!

Maybe we’re having our own little race to the finish line: Will it outlast me? Will I go first? Am I as beat up as it is?

Using that cloth, I kind of work around the holes, and we get along fine. It’s not a marriage that the cloth and I have, but it gives me an insight into the tolerance and forgiveness necessary for a marriage to last—or for a Community to hold together as it’s members age.

Focus on the holes and the fraying edges, the weak spots, the little stains—or get on with doing all that can still be done: a pie, an outreach to someone frazzled, a chuckle over some crazy caper of years ago.

We may just make that finish line together. Tuck the pastry cloth somewhere in my coffin. Just in case….

“Independence” – A Reflection on Independence Day

By Sister M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH

“Independence.” From toddlerhood on, our children are encouraged to walk by themselves. No one with any sense tries to prevent their walking because they might fall: spills are part of the process and another valuable lesson, scary and painful though they be.

Middle-schoolers learn gradually to speak truth to power, starting with peers on the playground. If well mentored, they grow in courage as teens, finding their backbone and making hard choices as they enter adulthood. We agonize with them at times but cheer their insights and brave decisions.

On a parallel, our country struggles to become itself, free, courageous in confronting evil, determined to go forward no matter the price in lives or money—and if you’ve lost a loved one in one of our many armed conflicts, you know that “pricey” doesn’t begin to describe the pain.

american flag 2As we sing our National Anthem on this July 4, enjoy fireworks and hot dogs, and recall the struggles that bought our freedom, let’s say a prayer of gratitude for all those—proud new parents, wise teachers, spiritual mentors, brave soldiers—who have bought and nurtured our independence, individually and as a country.

Let’s pray as well for people around the world who are still striving to be free and self-determining.

Whose example of hard-won independence inspires you? How will you express your gratitude for freedom this year?

 

Called by Circumstances

A Reflection by Sister M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH

In the first reading for the Second Sunday of Lent (GN 12:1-4A) God tells Abram:

“Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.”

Midrash is one of my favorite things.  (No, it’s not a terrible affliction akin to shingles, although that’s what it sounds like.)  Midrash is the practice of students of scripture who read a passage like the one above and wonder what happened before and after the event recorded.

What might have led up to it?  What outcomes were possible?  It’s all speculation, of course—none of it is verifiable in history—but pondering a reading in that way can be quite rich.

stars 2 Magic SkiesMy first thought on this little reading is, “God sure knows how to sweeten a deal!”  Certainly God realized how wrenching it would be for Abram to surrender his land.  Ownership of land in many (not all) cultures confers status, security, even the right to vote (as in our country at one time).  Abram should give all that up?

“You must be kidding, God.”

But then the sweetener:  God promises Abram a new great nation, a wonderful reputation, unlimited blessings.  Wow!  So “Abram went as the Lord directed him.”  Lucky for us he was so easily persuaded.  But, I have to wonder what his wife had to say!

Circumstances call us, (not divine voices exactly, but…) and we are rarely so compliant as Abram.  We dither, ponder, discuss, maybe dispute.  “Why should I do that, or go there or accept such-and-such or so-and-so?  Why me, now, here?  What if I had other plans?”

I think particularly of women I’ve known or heard about—mothers of young families whose husbands suddenly die—a car crash, a stroke, a heart attack.  Then what?  How to acquiesce to that?  How to go on?  Could I?

For Reflection:

 Is such a tragedy a call that can bring its own grace, making acceptance possible?  Are such experiences our transfiguring events?  How many such calls come to us in the course of one lifetime? How do we answer them?