by Sister Elise Cholewinski
Over the past few years June has become one of my favorite months. Classes and programs are finished, my office is in order, and I can look forward to time away. Much of that time away includes directing retreats and eventually making my own retreat. I anticipate with joy spending time by the lake, renewing friendships with other retreat directors, and praying in silence and solitude. Those are such refreshing experiences.
During the last week of May my brother had very serious heart surgery in Milwaukee. It occurred the day before I was scheduled to begin my ministry at an individually directed retreat. The evening prior to the surgery I withdrew from the retreat, trusting that someone would be available to take my place.
I spent several days in June with my sister-in-law at the hospital. We stood at my brother's bedside, assisting him and encouraging him. She and I ate meals at nearby restaurants, spent time walking around a shopping mall, slept next to each other in lounge chairs in a small, windowless room in the ICU family center, and engaged in some rather deep conversations as we traveled back and forth to the city. From time to time she expressed sincere gratitude for my simply being with her.
In this Sunday's Gospel Jesus invites us, "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest." Sometimes we follow that invitation by going off alone to be in His Presence. At other times we hear the call to do just what He did, to be His Presence, to invite another to be with us, and to become a source of strength and peace for that person. That was the call I heard this spring, and through my response I came to know a new, refreshing kind of experience.
Thanks, Elise, for your experiential reflection on being God's presence to another. Everyone will understand that.
Your message struck home as have been recuperating and my sister in law has been very supportive and strong for me. Thank you for this wonderful message.
Thank you Sister Elise for reminding me that we can be Jesus' presence to others as well as they can be Jesus' presence to us. Yes, a refreshing kind of experience.
Being present to The Presence. :+)