There is a mix of sorrow and joy as our elders grow old.
The joy is in their wisdom from a lived spiritual experience that spans many decades of peaks and valleys in community life as well as their own. Whether she is the baker, professor, or former prioress, her voice of experience of God's love can be both a challenge and a comfort. This is a joy I have grown to appreciate more and more. When I was away at university, I missed the wisdom from our elders and tradition...the sisters I was living with had good wisdom and offered support, but there is just something about our family way of helping each other.
The sorrow grows slowly as our elders grow old. During my last year at university, Sister Baker died and I felt the loss of my confidant and counselor. Now that my ministry is closer to home, I try to take advantage of the distance and visit more often. However, time marches on. Sister Professor doesn't always recognize me even though we have spent countless hours puzzling way at crosswords together and sharing stories of family, teaching, and prayer. Another Sister Professor has been slowly slipping away these past years and we miss her wisdom dearly. We care for them with tender love, wait with them for their Beloved, and cherish their presence while they remain.
There is a great joy in these wisdom figures, elders of our Benedictine family.
I cannot imagine our growth in learning to live in Obedience, Converstatio or Stability without them.