violette

violette
Heart's ease - an infusion was said to help mend a broken heart

Friday, 21 August 2015

Sailing into sunlight

Since Wednesday evening I, along with many others, have been mourning the loss of Sue, a sister and a friend, who had lived courageously with cancer for several months and died peacefully aged only sixty. She had been a woman brimming over with life and energy, humorous, gifted, nature-loving and highly intelligent, equally at home on a muddy country walk and in an academic institution. Her death has left immense sadness and an aching, Sue-shaped hole in so many lives.

For much of my time in the Society we didn't really know each other: then, four years ago, we worked together very well on a small project, and then a few months later she came to live at 11NG for a year. Despite differences in personality and background (and equal levels of strong will and bossiness!) we quickly and easily fell into friendship, in which we laughed, teased, squabbled, supported, shared deep thoughts and coped with each others' foibles, all the while enjoying the gift of each other. We had coincided at a point in our lives when we were both in 'a good place', in our spirituality and our sense of call and mission, discovering depths of God and outlets for creativity, which in itself was such a great gift. So I grieve because I have lost a friend, whilst also giving thanks for all that we shared.

Over the past few years Sue became our expert on Janet Stuart, sharing her passion for Janet and her intensive research into her life and spirituality, especially during the centenary commemorative events in 2013-14. Videos of all these talks, her enduring legacy to us and the wider Sacred Heart family, are on our YouTube channel, which is linked to this blog. (Sue's talks have also been grouped into a playlist)

When I visited Sue some days before her death I was struck by her air of peacefulness. I felt it was not so much that she was resigned to dying as intentionally living; not defying death but simply living life, quietly, appreciatively and - through some astounding grace and despite her increasing fragility - with contentment. I found myself recalling the title of her 2013 presentation in which she described Janet Stuart's interior journey during her final few years, which somehow aptly described the final journey on which Sue had embarked...


The talk - which you can watch here - begins with Hayley Westenra singing Whispers in a Dream, a hauntingly beautiful song set to the tune of Gabriel's Oboe from the film The Mission. It is a song filled with hope and faith...the hope-filled belief that when all has come to pass, the storm has breathed its last... Love will fall on us all...

And for the first time I was struck by the final line, and the assurance it contains: And we can smile again... As indeed we all know we will, eventually; as indeed we all already have, after other bereavements and heartaches. Even so it is good to be reminded of this as I stand on the shoreline and mourn, squinting before the dazzling sunlight into which I know Sue has peacefully sailed in a quiet atmosphere of grace...


Whispers in a dream
The world is quiet and waiting
And all around the air is still
Then sings the angel

When all has come to pass
The storm has breathed its last
And the rain has washed our fears away
Love will fall
Whispers in the wind
The clouds part to let the light in
And all around the people sigh
As birds take to the sky

When all has come to pass
The storm has breathed its last
And the rain has washed our fears away
Love will fall
On us all
The world will smile again

Whispers in a dream
The world is quiet and waiting
And all around the air is still
Then sings the angel

When all has come to pass
The storm has breathed its last
And the rain has washed our fears away
Love will fall
On us all
And we can smile again

1 comment:

  1. Dear Silvana, From across the pond, please know that I share in your grief and I thank you for the beautiful reflection and especially for memorializing the #JES Centenarian events on video. It was Sue’s passion and deep understanding of #JES that ignited my desire to return to England and learn more about Janet Erskine Stuart. I will be forever grateful that I had the opportunity to attend all three celebratory events and learn from so many scholarly individuals who so lovingly shared their knowledge of #JES. Now my only consolation amongst my profound grief is that I imagine Sue being greeted in heaven by Phil Tiernan, RSCJ; Fr. Robert Kaggwa and #JES herself. Oh, what a reunion of Saints!

    ReplyDelete