I have had the pleasure to spend time with the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls because of my work. Their mission is, “Living the Gospel Courageously, with Energy, Spirit, Peace.” They truly live out their mission. These are strong, courageous, liberal, women who care about social justice, take the vow of poverty, and dedicate their lives to making the world better. What a blessing it has been. As we prepare for Easter tomorrow, I am filled with a grateful heart for the people I meet who brighten my life.
I want to share about one Sister in particular-Sister Annella. She is a human being who brightens up a room with her presence. Although her frame is small, her spiritual presence is so big. She has such a generous, loving, spirit. She is in her 90’s but her skin does not show it and her eyes have a youthful twinkle. I see her about once a week and she always greets me by name. She grabs my hand and says, “There’s my pal.” She wishes I was there more, and said, “Can we keep you?” It just warms my heart. At the end of our visits she often asks if she can pray with me. She puts her small hand on my forehead and prays the sweetest prayers for God to watch over me. She has a coffee mug on her desk that quotes St. Francis’s famous prayer, “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.” She truly is.
You may think her caring is to be expected since she is a nun. One of the things I was told by the leadership team at the Franciscan Sisters is “nuns are people too.” The Sister who told me this, was explaining that Sisters struggle with the same things that other people do, and for some the spiritual life comes easier for some than it does for others.
Sister Annella has embraced this life whole-heartedly and stands out as someone who truly wants to make life better for others. She told me a bit about her life and like me, she dedicated her life and work to caring for the elderly. Her Mother died when she was fourteen and she was charged with caring for the household. Her first job as a Sister was as a cook in a nursing home. After many years working in dietary, she had someone tell her, “You need to come out of the kitchen, and be amongst people.” They were right about her. Her gifts are with people. She worked in activities and spiritual care which she said, “was her favorite.”
I remember a guest on the Oprah show years ago, who had been involved in a plane crash. He was one of the few survivors. He told Oprah he witnessed people’s spirits leaving their bodies and he said some were distinctly brighter than others. He said his mission from that point forward was to live his life so he would leave the world as one of the bright lights. This story has stayed with me, and I often think about living in such a way so I can be a bright light.
Sister Annella certainly is a bright light and I am so very grateful to have met her. She is an instrument of God’s peace, and has inspired me to be one too. As we celebrate the gift of Jesus’ resurrection, I encourage you to be grateful for people you encounter in your life who give you inspiration to be a brighter, more peaceful presence in the world.
I leave you with the famous prayer of St. Francis. Have a blessed Easter.
Can you think of an acquaintance who has touched your life and you feel they entered your life for a purpose?