By Sister Marian Abing
My morning prayer has always included a daily online reading from Father Richard Rohr. Interestingly, he seldom writes about this pandemic and how it might impact our prayers.
Ordinarily, dying is not a subject I meditate on most mornings. Instead, I usually begin my day with prayers of thanksgiving and of praise to God for blessing me, our community, and my family.
But the news during this past year has certainly brought death into my prayers as never before. And when I learned last spring that some of our sisters had died with COVID-19, I certainly pondered and prayed about this terrifying disease.
Now in my verbal prayers and meditation, I think often of the scariness of this pandemic, the huge numbers of people infected, and my own mortality and vulnerability at this time of my life.
For about ten years, visiting hospice patients and the elderly has been a major part of my volunteer ministry. Then, last spring the pandemic came and all visits had to be stopped, so I did what was the next best thing: I began making phone calls and sending cards through the mail.
Since last March, I probably have written 70 cards and made numerous phone visits. While it could never be as meaningful as a face-to-face visit, these contacts are very important to the sick and lonely. This past week, one of my hospice patients died, and I found out that one of my many cards to her was taped on the wall by her bed. I hope that my letters and cards helped her prepare for death in some small way.
We all do ministry. We all say our prayers in our own way. We all try to live a morally good life and help people if and when we can. It had never occurred to me that I would be living during a pandemic and would do my ministry in this new way. But it is important…and it is a ministry!
So my morning prayers still include Father Rohr’s daily reading. And I continue meditating on the joys and sweetness of life even during pandemic times, while I ponder my mortality and the numbers of people who are dying of the Coronavirus. Is life precious? Yes! Is life good? Yes! Is life all that matters? Yes!
Sister Marian Abing is a School Sister of St. Francis living in Arizona.