I found this twelfth century icon depicting the resurrection and it struck me looking at it, that all of life is represented there. But then the Easter story is our whole life journey too.
Very often, with totally unplanned and unforeseen journeys taken in the moment, one has to make decisions on directions, on staying with one path for now, or veering off at crossroads or dead ends. Sometimes even just taking time to look around with our companions to realise just where we are and where it is possible to go. It is the element of choice and openness and companionship that makes a journey of any kind the special thing it is. The Easter journey does not let us shy away from the suffering and challenges we meet along the route.
Recently I was exploring with a friend of mine and a co-Presentation Sister, how she might profile Nano Nagle in the context of her ministry. In our to-ing and fro-ing, we stumbled on the description of ‘a woman who did not turn away’… . Imagine, then, our delight to find this in the writings of screen-writer, author and lyricist, Christine Fry:
Always we were told, in actions louder than words, to turn away, turn away.
And so we became a lonely people caught up in a world
Moving too quickly, too mindlessly toward its own demise.
Until it seemed as if there was no safe space to turn.
No place, inside or out, that did not remind us of fear or terror, despair and loss, anger and grief.
Yet, on one of those days, someone did turn.
Turned to face the pain.
Turned to face the stranger.
Turned to look at the smouldering world and the hatred seething in too many eyes.
Turned to face himself, herself.
And then another turned.
And another. And another.
And as they wept, they took each other’s hands.
Until whole groups of people were turning.
Young and old, gay and straight.
People of all colours, all nations, all religions.
Turning not only to the pain and hurt but to beauty, gratitude and love.
Turning to one another with forgiveness and a longing for peace in their hearts.
At first, the turning made people dizzy, even silly.
There were people standing to the side, gawking, criticizing, trying to knock the turners down.
But the people turning kept getting up, kept helping one another to their feet.
Their laughter and kindness brought others into the turning circle
Until even the nay-sayers began to smile and sway.
As the people turned, they began to spin
Reweaving the web of life, mending the shocking tears,
Knitting it back together with the colours of the earth,
Sewing on tiny mirrors so the beauty of each person, each creature, each plant, each life
Might be seen and respected.
And as the people turned, as they spun like the earth through the universe,
The web wrapped around them like a soft baby blanket
Making it clear all were loved, nothing separate.
As this love reached into every crack and crevice, the people began to wake and wonder,
To breath and give thanks,
To celebrate together.
And so the world was saved, but only as long as you, too, sweet one, remember to turn.
Nano Nagle, Venerable Nano, you have much to say to our world, so much in need of people who refuse to turn away. Take us to that place. In the power of the divine love from which creation burst forth, in the power of the one who took flesh and overcame all evil in his resurrection, in the power of his Spirit unquenchably abroad and in our world and in our Church, help us to turn towards one another and towards all in our search for truth and life, holiness and grace, justice peace and love.
– Sr. Anne Codd
*(Extract verses used above are from the poem ‘The Great Turning’ by Christine Fry, Oct. 2004).