Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross in Green Bay, WI

Sketching helps Sister to pray during self-isolation time

God's love and faithfulness lie at the center

By Renae Bauer
Summer 2020 newsletter

Sister Marilyn Herr

Safety. Connecting. Biding time. Myself. These are the four themes that surfaced during Sister Marilyn Herr’s “sketching prayer” session about one month into Wisconsin’s “Safer At Home” orders issued on March 24 in response to COVID-19.

“I don’t sketch a lot but I have done it in the past,” says Sister. “It expresses something that is in me that doesn’t come out in words. It loosens what’s inside. It’s very freeing.”

Titled “Time with the Coronavirus,” the sketch centers on the Cross as a sign of God’s faithfulness and generous love, says Sister Marilyn. The sketch includes four panels:

  • Safety (top left)  – The images stress social distancing, wearing a face mask and washing hands thoroughly. The images surfaced while reading the guidelines issued by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and reflecting on the safety of others and herself.
  • Self (top right)  – The eyebrows point upward to convey alertness, searching and questions.
  • Connecting (bottom left)  – Prayer and Scripture Study along with the telephone, TV and internet have aided Sister in staying in relationship with God, Sisters, family, friends and people around the globe. “All those connect me even though I’m still isolated,” she says. Staying at home “is making everyone look at the issues of disease. It’s awful but we can unite and make it a better world.”
  • Biding time (bottom right)  – Unable to volunteer as she normally does, Sister Marilyn has been busy cleaning, reading, knitting baby booties and walking nearly an hour every day. “I’ve enjoyed seeing the beauty of spring and life coming forth in my neighborhood,” she says.

As challenging as self-isolating has been, Sister sees an opportunity to be more aware of our connection to one other.

“I have learned a great deal by envisioning a global outlook in my own life,” she says. “I have great gratitude for people who have been working in the background for many years,” such as healers, garbage collectors and manual laborers. “I am grateful for these heroes, not just those in high office.”

Through her reflections these past few months, Sister Marilyn believes a deeper connection with one another might be the only way we will overcome a graver problem: healing the world of extreme weather patterns.

“As a result of this pandemic experience, I think it’s urgent that we unite and work at climate change,” she says. “If we find this pandemic so difficult that we cannot work together what will we do when we address another global disastrous event?”

Sister Marilyn is confident we can improve our planet’s condition. All we need to do is see how Earth has responded to the recent changes in our behavior. “My sister has a daughter in California who says that as a result of California’s stay-at-home orders the smog in Los Angeles has lessened and she can now see blue skies during the day and the stars at night, so there is hope.”

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