At first, the thought of closing our book and media center didn’t seem to be daunting. Perhaps we could get some cleaning and painting done. There was always something waiting for us to have the time to do. After the first week we had completed inventory. Everything in our bookcenter was counted and entered into the computer. Task done!
After this I thought we would all move on to the next task we had all talked about getting to. Then things changed. I found myself unable to sleep after reading too much about Covid19. I worried about my family members. The tasks we were determined to carry out began to feel secondary to everyone as we adjusted to news reports. We began missing the visits of friends and the possibility of visiting family. I found myself calling family and friends more often. This brought on some feelings of guilt. Wasn’t I supposed to be getting on with those tasks? What is our mission now that we’re not able to open the front door to people seeking gospel inspiration? How is prayer going to be now that we are streaming Mass? Yes, we kept a schedule and yet even that was unfamiliar. Since our community would be taking turns making annual retreat in the convent, I asked to begin first.
I made this request because I knew I needed some one-on-one with Jesus Good Shepherd! As I knelt and sat in his presence, day after day for eight days, my attitude began to change. The invitation to “be still and know that I am God,” reminded me that the shepherd was a door to his sheep. They could go out of the sheepfold to romp in the fields and the shepherd would silently watch, call their name if they strayed, and go out looking for anyone straying too far. At night this good shepherd lay across the entrance to the sheepfold to defend it from wolves. During the day the good shepherd again led the flock to refreshing water and dewy fields of grass. Knowing the names of each lamb, ewe, and ram, the shepherd also knew their individual needs.
Surrendering my fears to Jesus Good Shepherd meant to trust him with everyone I felt concerned about. It meant I could sit near Jesus and watch how he loves each person I love. Turning myself over his care was a reminder that doing tasks was not what needed to be primary. Learning to love was primary. And that felt strange in a new way. How to love during a pandemic? After a while I tried new ways to reach out to my sisters and others. First I let myself be loved by the Shepherd, and then I followed his lead.
I could always go safely in and out of the fold listening for his voice. I knew this Good Shepherd already laid down his life for his sheep.
by Sr Margaret Kerry, fsp