A surprise party

On the point of moving to a new community and mission, Sr Teresa McMenamin dj, from District England, shares with us how a surprise party became a moving experience of the shared goodness of God.

The bright field

I have seen the sun break through to illumine a small field for a while, and gone away and forgotten it. 

But that was the pearl of great price, the one field that had the treasure in it .

I realise now that I must give all

that I have to possess it.

Life is not a hurrying on to a receding future, nor hankering after an imagined past. 

It is the turning aside like Moses to the miracle of the lit bush,

to a brightness that seemed as transitory as your youth once,

but is the eternity that awaits you.

The Bright Field.  R.S. Thomas

This poem by R.S. Thomas that I came across some time ago and found again in my Lenten reading,  led me to a renewed experience as I made my way with Holy Communion to the Sisters in St Michael’s Care Home in Westgate-on-Sea.

As usual, the greeting at the door was friendly as I signed in:  “They are all ready for you, Sister.  As I made my way to Sr Margaret Devine on the ground floor, I was told that the Sisters were in the garden room today.   I wondered slightly about this as the Sisters prefer to receive Communion in their rooms; but changes happen and we “go with the flow”. 

“It’s for you Sister!”

From left to right: Srs Teresa McMenamin, Margaret Buckley, Marion Staff, Margaret Devine,

Mary Clare Mason, Veronica Howell, Alma Barrington, Anne Thompson

I can’t convey the emotion I felt as I walked in and saw our six Sisters, all dressed up, sitting at a beautifully decorated table laid with flowers and cakes, and ready for a party. It’s for you, Sister– a party to say thank you, a farewell, and all good wishes in your new home.  All this had been planned by the staff, Sr Mary Clare Mason, and the other Sisters. 

I was overcome and had to swallow hard as I entered into it and was presented with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a card with more signatures than I could count. “We couldn’t tell you, Sister, because you wouldn’t have wanted it,  but we want to do it because we appreciate you, thank you, and want to wish you well in your new home”. For me it was truly a “turning aside like Moses to the burning bush”  – a moment of gratitude, humility, and renewed recognition.

The sun breaking through

How are these bonds of friendship formed?  Is it because we recognise the “sun breaking through” in services given with respect, love, and understanding? May it be, as one of the Sisters present remarked, in recognising how lovely it was to receive Holy Communion around the party table? Or again, are these bonds formed in the little everyday gestures of genuine greeting, compassion,  and understanding, of working together to bring relief, support, and joy to others, and perhaps from sharing those moments of experience?

All are gifts and reflections of the goodness of God, given, often unknowingly, in answer to Jesus’ example and for the building of his Kingdom.

Sr Teresa McMenamin dj,

District England


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