As is the case with all of us, “social distancing” is very much a part of our day-to-day experience. We sisters are used to engaging with those whom we serve (our retreatants, donors, residents, students, families, priests, etc.) on a daily basis. It is part of our way of life. Our charism is first and foremost uniting ourselves with the Lord in deep prayer that permeates who we are and everything we do and then letting these graces flow out to all whom we serve and come in contact with. Along with this, we are a very close-knit community. There are 130 of us and we are ONE religious family. And as any family, we have gatherings on a regular basis. We sincerely like to be together. We love each other.

This last Sunday, since we have not had the opportunity to gather for a while, we “ZOOMed” each other from all around the country. 130 sisters on one screen all at the same time. It was an interesting and blessed experience.

We heard what our sisters in different parts of the country and field of service are struggling with. We serve the elderly and so our campuses continue to be closed to the public which includes our residents’ families. We heard about the challenges of trying to assure our residents’ families that their loved ones are being taken care of, of caring for our co-workers in healthcare during these stressful times and also assuring our residents as they too struggle with not seeing and interacting with their loved ones. We heard about our students’ families struggling at home, parents losing their jobs, our sisters and co-workers who are teachers needing to turn their classrooms into virtual classrooms within days. We heard about staff members who are struggling financially as well as many many other prayer intentions.

During times like these, it is much easier to focus on all the challenges, true. What has become very evident is all the GOOD that is also emerging. Unity is a word that comes up regularly. Growth in unity can only come from God. Gratitude for God’s blessings. Deeper love for all those whom we are called to serve. Desire to do the best we can during this time to grow in holiness. Deep prayer for all those who are suffering. Experiencing joy even amidst the sorrow because God is in the present moment and He disposes everything for our good. These words capture the sentiments in many a Carmelite heart as well as so many around the world.

Let us remember that through it all, God is with us, He walks with us, He suffers with us, He rejoices with us. In this knowledge, comes great peace and hope. Know of our love and prayers for you!