I keep on mulling the event that happened over dinner the other night. I cannot find the words that would capture the depth and breadth of my “heaven on earth” moment.
My present community is composed of elderly Sisters, age ranges from 70 to 99 years old. I am just in my early adult life and still far from the way they have lived and served God.
At dinnertime, still undecided which food to take, a ninety six year old Sister joined me at the service table, aware of her health diet, I mumbled over what she took, “are vegetables good for her?” trusting she does, I left her. As she picks the fish, I doubted her judgment over the viand so I called the attention of the caregivers, after being informed that her viand is on her table I literally shouted; she is hard of hearing though, “Sister, your viand is on top of the dinner table.” Sheepishly, she replied “Oh!” with a grin on her face. Some of the Sisters noticed too and one even bellowed, “She cannot eat chicken, please!” and everyone had all their attention on her. Thanks to the meat (pork) she eats three times a day, she is perfectly well.
I went back to my seat feeling awed and in deep joy, each one taking care and being concerned with one another. It is as if the entirety of Community Life was flashed in front of me, summed up in one word CARE. But I can only care if I go out of myself and see my neighbor in need, not because they need it but, I want to care. I want to love.
I am a Religious. We live in community. We value commonality or common life, a distinctive character of Religious Life, of which it makes our life colorful indeed! We live in common; common prayers, common mealtimes, common recreation, common rising time and lights off. Everything is in common even the habit (dress) that we wear. All the things that we received are put in common so as no one in the community is in want.
After fifteen years, I am beginning to get the nerve of the life I embraced (experience will tell you so!) Community Life is the most challenging part in the life of a Religious and it goes with the Vows as well (poverty, chastity and obedience.) I am living with 55 Elderly Sisters. We are all gifted with different, unique characters and behavioral patterns, endowed with formed habits and values, virtues and historical backgrounds coupled with joys and pains, and of course some with unresolved issues. Yet, we exist, we live and we flourish because we CARE. Our Community Life is lived in CARE following the example of Jesus as the Good Samaritan to his neighbor whom he CARED.
Maybe, just maybe, if we take time to CARE for one another seriously-in our local community, family members specially the estranged, hurting, who feels unwelcomed, the pessimists, the indifferent and aloof, if only we take time to enter into their world we would realize how wounded WE ARE and how WE CONTINUE to wound the other. We project what we have and we loathe what we see. If only we have fully grasped the totality of our life, we would come to terms with the reality that we all live in one BIG COMMUNITY, living a common life.
It is a journey onwards with a neighbor towards the eternal community with the Father in heaven.