For #ThankANun day last Tuesday I decided to do more than just fill up social newsfeeds with hashtags and actually do what John Schlimm hoped people would do on that day – aside from buying his book of course. I decided to sit down and write a real thank you card to the “Nuns” who had played such a special role in my spiritual formation in high school.
As I wrote the words of thanks I realized there was no way I could fit everything I would want to tell them on this 4×6 piece of pretty cardstock. These Sisters gave up their lives to promote a deeper devotion to Christ through His beautiful Mother as school teachers.
So I decided I’d hand deliver the note with a freshly pressed copy of John’s Five Years in Heaven: The Unlikely Friendship that Answered Life’s Greatest Questions.
Mother Mary Magdalene was in a meeting when I popped by so I left the note and card with Sr. Cecilia Marie who was still as full of joy and kindness as ever. I asked if we could take a picture together and she was eagerly amused by the notion of being in her first ever “selfie” picture.
Later that day, after a long afternoon and after school pick up time, the phone rang – it was Mother Mary Magdalene!
She’d called to thank me for the card and book but then she stayed on the line and continued to ask how I was, how’s the family, and my husband. It wasn’t just small talk, she really wanted to know. We talked for a good 15 – 20 minutes and the whole time I felt as if I was in my own “20 minutes in Heaven”. It was so wonderful, like catching up with an old friend.
As I listened to her calm and familiar voice, I picked up the undertones of the small still voice of the Spirit. Like in my high school years, He’d chosen her as His messenger of peace and trust.
At some point in the conversation, I don’t know why, but I felt a twinge of longing. Longing for her somewhat cloistered life away from too much technology or other “luxuries” that really just end up detracting. Longing for a consistent and scheduled prayer life. Longing for a clear and direct purpose and mission like they have – teach the Gospel and increase a devotion to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
I chuckled a little and admitted this last one to her, “Sister – I mean Mother – sometimes I wish my life had a clearer and more specific purpose like you Sisters do.”
“Oh but, Erika, you are a consecrated woman!” She exclaimed with the typical gusto that earned her the endearing nickname, “Turbo Nun”.
“You are a wife, and a mother!!” She continued on with an infectious zeal.
“What you do for your children, and your husband, is your mission. And, and – by golly – those children are going to grow up to sing God’s praises in ETERNITY one day because of your prayers and love for them.”
I had to swallow back a few tears as she went on with an enthusiasm that could only be propelled by the power of the Holy Spirit.
As she spoke, I felt as if we were speaking Mother-to-Daughter, she, like my own mom, encouraging me and reminding me of my purpose and abilities.
As I’d listened to her speak of all the details she’s working on for a new Novitiate House and what she hopes for her community and for her “daughters”, I also felt a strong mother-to-mother connection. We understood each other in a way we never could have before. We both knew the amazing responsibility that comes with being a leader of a household. We both knew the joys and struggles of watching and helping those in our charge as they grow and develop into who God created them to be. No doubt, we’d both learned many lessons in trust and letting go along the way.
I’m so glad I had that chance to speak with her like that. Her words invigorated me and my passion for my vocation – my marriage and family. I’ll try to carry her zeal and excitement with me throughout the little and big details of my days.
If you’d like to read the book that inspired me to thank these beautiful Sisters which led to that Spirit-imbibed conversation, I suggest you check out John Schlimm’s Five Years in Heaven: The Unlikely Friendship that Answered Life’s Greatest Questions. And! There’s still one more day left today for the Giveaway HERE for his book so be sure to enter before 11:59 PM today 5/11.