“A time to embrace, a time to refrain from embracing.” so sayeth Qoheleth

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting

We’re all in this together.”  You’ve perhaps heard this from Ohio governor Mike DeWine in his daily conferences, and seen in a variety of nicely composed reminders on TV.

People are living up to that exhortation., and  have shown in marvelous ways their reaching out in care for each other: comforting, cooking and distributing food, looking in on the isolated,  phoning and zooming  and when we physically cannot touch or serve others—so many needing reassuring and hope—we must trust in God’s embrace of a world in confusion and division. Do you, along with me, still wonder what we can do, how we can help while safely tucked away in our homes and convents? We turn to prayer with a certain urgency.  After all, our prayer, our dwelling in the Word of God calls Dominicans to share the fruits of contemplation…

We are in Eastertide, with earth-life blooming with vivacity around us, yet to me it feels more like Advent—or the Babylonian captivity. All around us people are in mourning, in worry, in sadness, in financial peril, in fear, anger and sadness, and here we are waiting, sharing the uncertainty, safe for the present, but anxious to know what a future for us, the U.S., the world, is going to look like, how we will come back together whenever the virus is under control. And perhaps we are even more anxious because it seems to many of us that we are not essential, we are not out there on the front lines, doing the works of mercy, and we wonder how we are living our Dominican mission—sharing the fruits of our prayer and contemplation, which is such a strong part of our heritage..

We are needed and we will be needed, because the other Dominican “pillar” we have right now, the one to which we daily witness in oh so ordinary ways, is community, our common life.  At present, we hear a good deal of “we’re in this together,” being good neighbors, supporting our brothers and sisters by staying distant.  But as we know, along with the true goodness of the many shown in this time, we also notice the great fissures in our human society. As we form a “New Normal” our charism of common life gives us the graced duty of sharing our gift of Peace which is able to collapse the physical distance or social distance we maintain.

When we  see a ministry assignment to “prayer and presence” we know that the word “Presence” is a multi-layered word with  a range of possibilities for loving and caring and tending to sorrow and pain, offering kindness and cheer, taking time to listen to a person in distress. We are connected.  We participate in the loving-kindness of a God who desires not only presence but Embrace in the now of Eastertide, celebrating the Paschal Mystery of Jesus, opened to us in the spaciousness of the Holy Spirit. This is truly an other-centered way of living, the Good News which those newborn Christians shared with such joy in those first communities of Christians, as Acts has been recounting.

“We are in this together.”  We have two precious gifts to offer in helping to mend and to heal and to reconcile– our rootedness in contemplation, and witness through common life, our sisterhood.  And a title that reveals the power of our prayer and presence: Dominican Sisters of Peace.

Posted in Just Reflecting

8 responses to ““A time to embrace, a time to refrain from embracing.” so sayeth Qoheleth

  1. Jan, I add my “Thank You!” When the white hair and stiffening bones take over, then you have to say those words over and over with a sense of gratitude that you can still say them and live them as best as you can.

  2. Jan…a life of prayer is a full time job! We who pray are not slackers! No one of us who prays needs to feel negligent at this time of great need. Our sore knees and worn beads are proof. Thanks for reminding us that we are enough.
    Love you, dear Sister…Kathy

  3. Your words are inspiring Jan. On this feast of Pentecost we need to feel the fire of the Holy Spirit and prayer is the source. A Dominican Pillar that is a the source of peace. “A time to refrain from embracing…”

  4. Thank you, Jan, for reminding us that “we are all in this together to bring the Kingdom of God in our world.”

    Blessings on this Feast of the Ascension to you and all God’s People.
    Brigid, OP

  5. Dear Jan,

    Thank you for bringing to the fore the importance of these two of the four pillars at this time. Indeed these are days of struggle and wondering… and times of feeling rooted in who we are called to be as well. I appreciate this much-needed reminder!


  6. Thank you, Jan, for your very thoughtful reflection. You articulated well the thoughts of many who wonder what can I do during this crisis time. We needed to be reminded that prayer and presence along with community, are valuable gifts.

  7. Dear Jan,

    Your question is one that also plagues me! Thank you for your many faceted answer that is well worth my/our pondering.

  8. Jan,
    Your preaching and your art paint profound images of the power of the Holy Spirit illuminating the reality that, sent by God, we are all essential workers in the garden of life we now inhabit – Thank you for reminding each of us of the gifts we have been given to manifest Dominican Sisters of Peace.

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