Embracing New Possibilities

Photo: Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

It was so utterly disappointing.  Months and months of preparation and journeying together.  The big celebration to take place Holy Saturday night:  a baptism, reception into the church, confirmation–celebrating a journey begun in September.  This was April, 2007.   The time was near.   My favorite time of the liturgical year:  Holy Week, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday.  As a Pastoral Associate in a Catholic parish I spent a lot of time in church those days and felt blessed to be so involved during this special time.  April 2007, however, proved to be different.

Energetic and enthusiastic most of the time, something different took place for me the week before Easter.  I felt tired with an ache in my side.  I ignored it thinking it would go away.  I attended Holy Thursday mass and went home.  Good Friday morning wasn’t much better.  I called my doctor’s office and described my symptoms.  Go to the nearest emergency room.  I did.  The hospital was only a couple of blocks from where I lived.  I waited.  Blood tests.  I called the parish to say I would not be there until the afternoon.  Ok, so a CAT scan.  More waiting.  Then the question:   Do you have a surgeon?  Surgeon, I asked?  No, I have never had surgery.    You are now.  Your appendix is ready to burst.  No, I thought.  I can’t have surgery now, this is the biggest time of the liturgical year.  I had surgery at 3:oo pm Good Friday.   I spent one night in the hospital and many days of recuperation.  You could have died if the appendix had burst, the doctor told me.   There was no waiting.  I cried.  Not so much from the pain of surgery.  I experienced disappointment.  I looked forward to  celebrating with those I cared about and whom I had journeyed for almost a year.  I knew all would be well–I worked with a wonderful team.

The three Sisters with whom I lived were all musicians.  As they left for their respective places of worship through the week-end, I stayed home.  It wasn’t what I had in mind for these Holy days.  Between sleep and wakefulness, I reflected.  There seemed to be possibilities for new life in what was taking place for me.  Yet they were hard to see.  Later I saw many blessings in what took place.  Not as I wanted it, but as it was–God was there helping me to embrace new possibilities.

In the Gospel of Mark  ( 5:21-43) from the Christian Scriptures two distinct stories relate possibility for new life.  A girl who has seemingly died and a woman with a hemorrhage.  Desiring different possibilities  for their lives they reached out to Jesus.  Others ask for healing for the girl.  Did Jesus bring the girl back to life in a physical sense or was he telling those around her to embrace new possibilities and new life as the girl experienced it?  The woman with the hemorrhage reaches out in faith on her own behalf.  Jesus responds, do not be afraid, have faith.  Jesus invites belief in new possibilities.   Not as they wanted life to be, but as it could be with openness to God’s Wisdom.

So many times in our lives the path seems set.  We know what our live are about and where we are going.  Then twists in the road present themselves as new possibilities. Soon the road less traveled is before us.  We may not have planned the results before us.  With openness to Holy Wisdom in our lives, a way may open to new life and a clearer  way of seeing.

We embrace new possibilities in our lives.

Blessings and peace,

About SisterNancy

I am a Catholic Sister, a member of the School Sisters of St. Francis from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I enjoy swimming and nature: hiking in the mountains and along rolling hills, sitting by water and walking through the various seasons of life. I am a spiritual director, spirituality consultant, chaplain and retreat director. You can contact me at sisternancyosf@gmail.com
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