THE HOLINESS OF SISTER ANNE
READ: I Peter 1:13-2:1
“Your minds must be sober and ready for action; placing all your hope in the grace brought to you through the life of Christ. Do not allow yourselves to be shaped by the passions of your former ignorance, but as obedient children, be yourselves holy in all your activity, after the model of the Holy One who calls us, as the Scripture says, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.‘ [Leviticus 19:2] And if you address God as Father, the One who judges without favoritism according to each individual’s deeds, live out these years of your exile here on earth in reverent awe…. Since by your obedience to the truth you have purified yourselves so that you can experience the genuine love of others, love each other intensely from the heart … Rid yourselves, then, of all spite, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and carping criticism….” – I Peter 1:13-17, 22,2:1
We, in Christ, are all called to walk upon this earth with holiness. And this is the desire of my heart, … but still I pray… “Lord, what do you mean when You speak of holiness?”
Sister Anne over at Sacred Heart Convent is one who walks this earth with a self-evident spirit of holiness. I struggle to put words on what it is about her that gives proof of her holiness of life. She is not that extraordinarily “religious sounding”. She speaks with common, simple language of an everyday soul, speaking of her faith in a most natural way. She does not fill the air with words like “Thy” and “Thou” or even “Praise the Lord!” and “Hallelujah!” She instead speaks of the wrens who nested in her gardener’s shed and the pesky rabbits that love to harvest her vegetable crops. She speaks of clouds that carry rain and sunshine that warms her face. She speaks of splinters in her fingers and her removal of them. She speaks of lessons just recently learned and lessons far too oft forgot. She prays to God more as heartfelt conversation, soul to soul, and she speaks to me in the same prayerful way, soul to soul, as authentic friend.
Sister Anne is truly one who walks this earth with a self-evident spirit of holiness. And I struggle so to define what that holiness of hers is specifically about. Her demeanor is at peace with life, with herself and with all others, it does seem. She has not the time or desire to complain or criticize, nor the inclination to judge others or dare condemn. She WILL confess her own struggles, but with only a most gentle grace and discipline. She shares her joy when joy she finds; she shares her tears when sorrows do appear. I can’t imagine her actually sinning, but she sadly says she does. She IS God’s good by simply being the person Christ has created her to be; and she DOES God’s good by merely doing what she herself would do.
Sister Anne is most assuredly one who walks this earth in holiness. Still I wish I could better identify just what it is about her. Her eyes twinkle as if they were sparklers of grace, dancing with an eager love she so wants to cast your way. Her voice is somehow filled with music even when she only speaks, and when she lives in silence, then the music settles in her smile, a smile that somehow has within it prayers of blessing. She is far more about the listening part of life …her words are both rare and so well-chosen, and they often sound as echoes of your own confessions and maybe, even, the counsel of the God she knows. Sister Anne somehow walks this earth more lightly than most of us others do. She never seems to scatter; she never seems to plod; she never seems to dash away or even to rush from here to there. Sister Anne somehow glows, ever so humbly, ever so gently, ever so subtly, with a softened glow of Heaven’s Light.
Yes, Sister Anne is just one of many I have known who walk this earth with a holiness of life and spirit. And, in the end, I suppose I know what it is about her that makes her somehow holy … it is when I think of her (and others like her), when I talk with her, when I see her do her work and say her prayers … my world, the world she shares with me and many others … becomes somehow … a far more holy place.
And so I pray …“Lord, what do you mean when You speak of holiness?”
I believe it has something to do with being innocently in love with God and being deeply in love with life, somehow living with a vision that heaven and earth are far closer than we might think.
Brother Anthony of the Cross
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