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

Friday, 21 July 2017

Philippine forum: encounter

Anyone who follows me on Twitter or Instagram will know that I've just returned home from a spirituality forum in the US, focused on the life, inspiration and legacy of St Philippine Duchesne. It was an intensely rich and varied time, and I suspect one blog post alone will not suffice to describe it. Instead, as I reflect on it, sifting through photos and memories, I will probably write various short posts to try and capture some of the themes and events which have especially filled my heart.

And my heart right now is full of people! Those five days in St Louis - and then my short stay in Chicago - were rich in all sorts of encounters. There were some RSCJ there who I knew well, even if we hadn't met for a long time: perhaps we had lived together, shared significant experiences; maybe they had spent time in my Province or I in theirs, or we had simply met and re-met at different times and meetings over the years. Then there were those American RSCJ and other members of the wider family who had come to our Janet Stuart events three and four years ago; as we had welcomed them to the best of our country, history and culture now they happily welcomed us to theirs.

Inevitably, in a forum of about 350 people, there were many - sisters, associates, alumnae and staff - I had never met before. There were some names already known to me - and I was especially delighted to meet Cathy Mooney, who wrote the biography of Philippine I read on my way into the Society - but many others, hitherto unknown, yet with whom connections could easily be made. Certainly, when I arrived at St Louis airport, to be cheerily and warmly greeted by alumnae from St Charles, a joyous embrace was the most spontaneously natural thing to do. Yes; at one level we were strangers, and yet at another, deeper one we were not: as a teacher at one of our schools had written, upon finding herself at an RSCJ-run albergue on the Camino de Santiago, in the Sacred Heart network, all roads really do lead to family...

There was a special group, too, only a dozen or so, whom I had only ever met online, thanks to social media. There were some RSCJ with whom I have shared and sparred, laughed, dreamed, grieved and condoled via Facebook, whose faces I only knew in photos, their voices not at all. Now, even after just a few days, we know each other differently. To my delight too, there were some readers of this blog, and others with whom I have connected via Twitter, often camouflaged by our handles. (Hello, I'm heart in the world, I said to some, by way of introduction) In the Sacred Heart all roads really do lead to family, and to richer, livelier encounter...

Specially made banner
And underlying all this, a new, deeper encounter with Philippine, the one whose vision and legacy had brought us all together. Woman of prayer and passion, of grit, grace and generosity, her spirit and huge heart hovered over and among us, as surely as her face gazed down from banner and PowerPoint alike. In the conference hall, and very specially at St Charles and Florissant, we learnt more about her fallibility and her strength, her vision - at once wide and constrained - and her heroic courage and commitment. In her fallibility she is as human as any of us; somehow, because of this, her commitment is rendered even more inspiring. I just hope I'll be able to convey something of this inspiration and this encounter in my posts...

4 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this blog, 'heart in the world.'

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  2. I am looking forward to the rest. It has been so good to follow this. So glad that you enjoyed it on so many levels.

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  3. inspiring! and ditto to Margaret :-)
    also love!!! your instagram!

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