Skip to main content

Wise as a serpent, gentle as a dove


art by Sarah Taylor Ko
When our family started visiting "our Sisters" once a month or so, I was assigned the job of cook. When we had work days, Ed and the kids would be out raking leaves or planting bulbs or picking apples, I'd be cooking hot dogs and making applesauce for the 50 or so folks who'd be working with the Sisters that morning.

My constant kitchen companion in those days was Sister B. Sister B has an education in pharmacology, and despite being retired, she uses that same exacting care with quilting, cooking and dozens of other things that fill her days.

Sister B comes up to about my chin, which is to say she is petite. She has silver rimmed glasses that sit properly on her nose, a quick grin and smiling blue eyes. With the soft voice, she always asked me far more questions than I asked her, as we cooked and prepped the lunch.

It would be easy to brush off Sister B as a "nice little old nun." I know, because that's what I did. I got accustomed to her sweet voice and cheery manner. I like that she asked me lots of questions - nothing was ever about me in those days, when my kids were small and their needs large.

It was probably a year or so later, Dear Husband and I were with a number of other couples, sharing an evening discussion with the Sisters. Sister B and I ended up at the same table. As the evening progressed, I was struck by how wise Sister B was. Her comments were insightful. I was amazed at her thoughtful contributions to a rich discussion.

Later, as we were driving home, I was telling Hubby about this. Finally, I knew what Christ meant when he told his followers to be wise as serpents, yet gentle as doves. And he was good enough to illustrate his point, via my relationship with Sister B.

Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco is the Archbishop of Genoa (which is a real place as opposed to the kingdom of Genovia.) His thoughts regarding wisdom resonated with me. And even though Sister B still lights up when she sees me, and I still believe she is a "nice little old nun," I also know she is so much more.

Cardinal Bagnasco: May the Lord help us to return to wisdom, that wisdom that is not afraid of God, that sees in Jesus its true hope, that recognizes Christianity - far from mumbled obscurantism - has introduced an element of spiritual freedom into human life that is capable of elevating individuals, peoples, and nations. The world crises is first of all a spiritual crisis. Failure to admit this signals a failure to comprehend the seriousness of things! We need to start thinking with our heads again! Faith does not eliminate intelligence, but rather seeks it, stimulates it, opens it to reality. Faith asks intelligence to actualize it in history, it encourages intelligence to reawaken from sleep and react to the world of slogans and lies.... All true greatness is born from grace - this we must invoke, of this we must live. - homily on the Feast of St. Lawrence, 8.10.18

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Trying to "end run" God

If you're a football fan, you know what an end run is. From Merriam-Webster:
a football play in which the ballcarrier attempts to run wide around the end of the line We try to "end run" God a lot. I do. I figure I know better. I've got this - no need to worry the Big Guy about such a trivial thing.

Of course, it never works.

Like the puppy above, when we try and evade the tough obstacle (even though we KNOW we will eventually have to do it), we end up - well, off in the bushes.

But oh! How I wished my way worked. I'd love to take a flying leap and land smoothly and gracefully. People would be in awe, as if watching Simone Biles nail a balance beam routine that no one else would even attempt. I would shyly look down and blush - just lightly - and acknowledge (But humbly! Oh so humbly!) my achievement.

But no: I am the one pulling myself out of the bushes, scratches all over my legs and twigs in my hair. I'd hear that gentle but loving voice of God saying, &quo…

Be Transfigured

From today's readings: 

Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the and his clothes became white as light.

...we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it as to a lamp shining in a dark place until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

Today we celebrate the Transfiguration. For whatever reason, Jesus brought three of His disciples to Mount Tabor to witness this miracle. They weren't sure what they were seeing, but they knew enough to throw themselves to the ground in the presence of Almighty God. St. Peter (who never did anything halfway) excitedly declares that he will erect tents on the mountain as a way of memorializing the event. But Jesus tells him and the others that they are not to tell people what they witnessed - at least not yet.

In the second reading, the requirement to be quiet has bee…

Be Brave

A few years ago, it came to my attention that a young family member was struggling with anxiety and depression. I was able to share with her a bit of my own struggles, and let her know she wasn't alone.

A few weeks after our talk, I saw the movie, "Brave." It struck me that the young protagonist, Merida, modeled a great quality. She was indeed brave.

Being brave is not about recklessness. It is not about confidence. It's not about being foolish, or looking for glory in the eyes of others.

Bravery is about doing what is right, even when you are a quivering mess. It's about knowing that things may not turn out the way you expected, but forging ahead anyway. Being brave is standing by the hospital bed while a loved one is dying, and all you really want to do is turn back time. Bravery is standing up to a bully, when your legs are screaming for you to run. Brave is doing what needs to be done even when you're scared and tired and feeling helpless and hopeless.

I …