Stories Seldom Heard
249th Edition April 1, 2020
It Might be Spring, But We Are Not Sprung Yet
Welcome to Stories Seldom Heard. Along with many of you, we in San Francisco have been in self- isolation for almost four weeks. However, spring is “springing” outside. It can’t be contained. Some of the trees are ahead of the others. Some have new blossoms; others are tenaciously pushing to “green.” Nature’s activities outside help us visualize not only where we are as we approach Easter – not quite there - but also how we are coming to grips with a new way of life. Because of the coronavirus and its devastating effects the world is in the midst of change. The season of the year is “spring,” in the northern hemisphere, but visually it has not yet fully arrived. This coming to fullness seems to be a metaphor for our lives. We, too, are in the process of experiencing a new way of life that has not been totally revealed.
We are at the threshold of Holy Week. Many of the daily readings mirror the complexities of life. We hear in the first readings God’s words of comfort, covenant, promise, protection and long life. Those are very reassuring words since the daily Gospel readings reflect a growing open hostility towards Jesus that hints of his imminent trial and death. The suffering of Jesus that leads up to Holy Week -misunderstanding, betrayals, hatred - and the sufferings of Holy Week itself do not erase or dismiss the promises of God. This is true for Jesus and also for us.
Our spiritual lives and faith have always been complex because neither is static. As we slowly come to know God more fully through prayer, spiritual reading, meditation and thoughtful actions, our faith grows and deepens. As we change and continue to develop into more mature self-giving and just human beings, God continues to enlighten us and reveal Godself to us in ordinary and extraordinary ways. In the best of times, prayer is like being with someone you love in a dark room. You don’t see the person, but you know the person is present (1). Yet, we do not always feel God’s closeness in our daily lives. Many of us experience God as silent. But this does not mean that God is absent. God is the One who sustains our lives. The Spirit lives in us and surrounds us. Perhaps it is we who are too noisy to notice or too busy to listen. During this unusual time of self-isolation and shifting practices, we might pay attention to the silence that surrounds us and listen carefully to the voices we hear in the silence of our days. Some of the voices will be external and gift us with joy. Others will be quite personal. A friend said that in the silence he felt a holy presence: a presence that brought peace and a sense of calm. Another person told me that because of the lack of street traffic in her neighborhood she heard three birds calling to each other from her backyard trees. (She facetiously added that the trees were more than six feet apart.) But their repetitive chorus brought a sense of joy.
Even though the Lenten readings are moving us towards Easter, the post resurrection stories we hear during the Easter season also speak of a profound transition. The suffering and death of Jesus devastated his disciples. With his death, their hopes and dreams were in shambles. Their lives were uprooted. Confused and disoriented, they did not know how to respond. Whether it was out of habit or lack of faith they relied on their habitual responses. The women respectfully prepared spices and brought them to anoint Jesus’ dead body, but they found an empty grave. The disciples on the road to Emmaus over-explained a commonly known event while still unaware of Jesus’ resurrected presence. The disciples returned to fishing thinking it was their only option. It was on the seashore that they were shown the way forward. The disciples in the locked room found that the bolted doors did not protect them from the Truth. The decisions and assumptions that the disciples were accustomed to, turned out to be inadequate, inappropriate and naive because they did not yet realize that everything in their lives and the world had changed.
For them and for us, it takes time to change our expectations and our usual ways of responding to serious situations. We are especially aware of this limitation during this time of the coronavirus. It has taken us time to realize how serious the situation is. We do not know what the future holds or how long our usual behavior will have to be curtailed. But we do know that in the midst of this horrific transition God is near. There are real fears and struggles before each of us, but this is also a time to draw strength from our spiritual practices and perhaps to develop new ones.
One of the charisms of the Dominican Order, as many of you know, is that we are seekers of truth. We also desire to share the truth we have found with all those we meet. If you are looking for good news you might want to develop or renew your study of our rich and diverse spiritual traditions. Give Us This Day is a monthly mailing that includes the daily Mass readings, as well as, insightful daily reflections on the readings. It is published by Liturgical Press, PO Box 7500, Collegeville, MN 56321, GiveUsThisDay@cambywest.com
This “Sabbatical Season” will pass faster than we think. So you might want to start now. You could read one of the following spiritual books and begin a daily study on a particular topic that involves our faith and our daily lives.
Pope Francis: The Name of God is Mercy; The Joy of the Gospel; Laudato Si; On the Care of our Common Home; Rejoice and Be Glad.
Elizabeth A Johnson: Friends of God and Prophets; Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love; Creation and the Cross; Truly Our Sister
Each day during this time of self-isolation our sisters will hold you and your families in our prayers. We count on your prayers also.
Holy Spirit - Fire of Exodus and Flame of Pentecost,
time and again you have led us into the desert of Lent.
Melt our resistance. Thaw the frost of fear. Enkindle our longing. Ignite our compassion and fill our lives with your fiery Spirit.
Living flame of love, burn deep within us.
Give us strength to endure the heat of transformation
and set our hearts on fire. Amen
(An adaptation of Sister Patricia Walter, O.P.’s prayer)
1. Brian Pierce, O.P., We Walk the Path Together, Learning from Thich Nhat Hanh and Meister Eckhart, PO Box 308, Maryknoll New York, 10545, p. 27
"Stories Seldom Heard" is a monthly reflection written by Sister Patricia Bruno, O.P., a Dominican Sister of San Rafael, California. This service is offered to the Christian community to enrich one's personal and spiritual life. The articles can be used for individual or group reflection. If you would like to support this ministry, please send your contributions to: Dominican Sisters of San Rafael,
c/o Sister Patricia Bruno, O.P., 2517 Pine Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
Special thanks to Mary Ellen Green, and Maria Hetherton who have helped in editing this article. To make changes or remove your name from “Stories Seldom Heard” mailing list, please contact me at email@example.com. Thank you. Bob McGrath.