Issue Date: September 17, 2004
By JAMES STEPHEN BEHRENS
Not long ago I gave a retreat to a community of sisters, the Adorers of the Precious Blood. About a hundred sisters, most retired, live at their center in Wichita, Kan.
Kansas is known for strong winds, and I was there in tornado season. Fourteen touched down near Wichita my first night there. Other winds have blown through that place and left their mark.
I read once that ecclesia, the word for church in the New Testament, is a verb, meant to connote the active gathering of people by the spirit. The spirit, who comes as wind, brings men and women together and forms community. Church is the call and sustenance that is God.
What impressed me most about the sisters in Wichita was their happiness. I had a chance to hear many of their stories. They have missions all over the world and have known, in recent years, as we have, the loss of some of their own through martyrdom. They have also known the joys of new beginnings in places that are in desperate need of the good news of the Kingdom.
Their community is a blend of people who occupy different places on the ecclesial and social maps of being. It is obvious that God has a good thing going through their lives. Out of all that difference there breathes a spirit of joy and gratitude.
On my last night there, I joined a wake service for one of their community who had passed on. Cordelia was 97. The community and Cordelias family and friends gathered in the church and shared stories about her. I listened and could feel the love they had for this woman. A loving wind had brought her to that place 80 years ago, and she had found a good life. The same wind was carrying her home.
I liked Wichita. God has breathed a lot of happiness in that corner of Kansas.
Trappist Fr. James Stephen Behrens lives at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery, Conyers, Ga.
National Catholic Reporter, September 17, 2004
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