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Mission Stories

Leading a Spiritual Life

Leading a Spiritual Life

Over the decades that our Sisters and Associates spend in mission and in other healing roles, their spirituality is an ever-present part of their lives. It informs much of how they relate to others and discover their sense of purpose and meaning. Recently, three MMS took the time to reflect on their spiritual lives, kindly sharing some of the deep insights they have gained as a result of their years of experience and contemplation.  

 

 

Sister Jeanette McDermott cherishes fond memories of helping on her family farm in Iowa, where she delighted in simply taking a break from herding cows to watch them drink from a local spring. She felt “saturated by nature” as she soaked in the sight of “the trees, the grass, the ants, the insects, the… everything!”

Around 2016, shortly before Sister Jeanette’s younger brother Tom died at age 89, he drove her to visit their old farm. Together, they slowly made their way towards the spring. When they came upon a wire fence, Sister Jeannette tried to climb over it but quickly saw it was insurmountable. She said to her brother, “This is the way it is when we are dying.  We come to a place of impasse, when there is no way we can get over. We have no answers and we just have to wait here in mystery and remember what the joy of being at that spring was like.”

A deeply spiritual person, Sister Jeanette devotes much of her time now to contemplating God’s will for her. At this point in her life she yearns to be useful to others - her desire helped shape her decision to move to a retirement home a few months ago. She shares, “I’m not 15 anymore or 20, or 60. I’m dying. I'm going into this cloud and I need to be with that. Why do I not request that I move into an atmosphere where i can help the Sisters?”  Here she can be present to Sisters whose bodies and mental capacities have declined significantly. She says, “I want to be with them in that struggle. I can be with them as people have been there with me in my darkness and my struggles.” 

Like Sister Jeanette, many MMS describe a deeper level of spiritual clarity that comes with the passing of time. Reflecting on her own experiences, Sister Miriam Paul Klaus observes that “in the beginning one makes things complicated. [When you are] beginning your spiritual life, you’re given all kinds of suggestions for how to go about it but in the end, it comes down to how you relate to God and how God relates to you.”

As Sister Miriam Paul explains, the foundation of her spirituality now rests simply on the first two commandments -- to love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. She shares: “Our whole life is really a particular expression of loving our neighbor as our self.”

For Sister Jane Fell, she recalls the presence of God in her earliest memories. In her own words she shares: “I grew up on a rural farm in Iowa, one of seven children. It was like God was part of the atmosphere. I lived quietly within this atmosphere.”

For 50 years she served as a nurse-midwife around the world. She recalls that “as I delivered babies and cared for children, I experienced God as life.” 

Now at the age of 85, Sister Jane remains deeply spiritual, a quality that colors even what might seem like merely routine aspects of her daily life. She says, “I have learned to smile a lot more and to listen and speak a lot more to the 20 – 30 customers that I serve each day. I see the customers perk up with a smile on their face as they leave. I experience God as my neighbor.”