We had little idea what we were getting into but I suspect for every one of us, it was a life-changing experience. For those two weeks, we learned alongside these women who were trained as healers and lived their charism of being the “healing presence” of Christ. They prepared us well for the work we were going to engage in by helping us find our own ways of being a healing presence and recognizing that healing is not simply physical but also spiritual. We also learned to live in community, to accept the challenges of different perspectives and personalities and to include prayer as a regular part of our time together.
But it was the day-to-day life with the Medical Mission Sisters that taught me the most. While I remember few names, I remember faces and experiences well. I remember one sister carefully composting all the vegetable trimmings and when the bucket was full, burying the contents in a hole in the yard as one small action to be a good steward of the earth. I have been a dedicated kitchen-scrap composter ever since. I recall another sister talking about the value of being alone with self and God, and indeed there were one room cabins on the premises for spiritual quiet and solace. I appreciate quiet, and find God in that quiet, in a way I did not at age 22. Another time several of us were talking with the sisters about our concerns about the role of women in the Catholic church, concerns the sisters seemed to share. When asked why one would ever choose to become a sister and stay in an order, one sister responded saying, “If I leave, who is going to make change?” Both within the church and in the world, I have been continuously inspired by the thought that I too must be the one to make change.
But what I remember most is the real joy they had in their lives as a healing presence both as sisters and as a community. Would that we all find our own charism and find such joy in living a life dedicated to being Christ’s presence in the world.