We are ONE! I have often spoken and written of this, and now more than ever this sense of humanity’s togetherness has been exposed to us through a virus! We often talk nowadays, about social media favorite postings “going viral.” Now, we know how it feels to be part of this viral mass of humanity which favors no-one and includes everyone!
“To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny” (Earth Charter Preamble. Earthcharter.org “turning conscience into action for a thriving earth”)
In the rising awareness we are ONE, we find solitude, isolation alien. You are craving to connect – are you not? Some solace may be drawn from John O’Donoghue in this quote from Anam Cara;
‘Solitude is one of the most precious things in the human spirit. It is different from loneliness. When you are lonely, you become acutely conscious of your own separation. Solitude can be a homecoming to your own deepest belonging. One of the lovely things about us as individuals is the incommensurable in us. In each person, there is a point of absolute nonconnection with everything else and with everyone. This is fascinating and frightening. It means that we cannot continue to seek outside ourselves for things we need from within. The blessings for which we hunger are not to be found in other places or people. These gifts can only be given to you by yourself. They are at home at the hearth of your soul.’
A ceremony on March 11, 2020, here in Mill Hill, London, UK was to celebrate the integration of the Daughters of Charity of Great Britain and Australia into ONE Province called after Blessed Rosalie Rendu. This was the last time I was in public, as two days later, our Government set up quarantine conditions for the whole country. We tried hard not to hug, and keeping our distance was impossible as we listened intently to Sr. Marie Raw’s speak of Rosalie Rendu’s inspirational work, including during a time of cholera and viral disease.
How we smiled as the eucalyptus tree was planted, carefully chosen to mirror the one planted in Australian soil, but a type carefully selected to weather the British soil and climate. On reflection now, I think of that eucalyptus tree bedding down, spreading its roots, feeling the rising warmth of the British Spring weather, and I am glad. It signifies HOPE!
As Henri Nouwen writes; “Hope frees us to live in the present, with the deep trust that God will never leave us.
The geographical distance of over 10,000 miles between the Sisters in Australia and Great Britain has proved no barrier to common charism, with the same set of values and spiritual sharing. In fact, any differences are strengths, because in sharing their experiences, the Sisters learn from each other and reinforce the effectiveness of their work to serve the poor.
I LOVE the fact that I am one of 4 million people in the Vincentian Family.
This “family” feeling is real, and I have borrowed Sr Marie’s illusion of the sun never setting on the Rosalie Rendu Province to include the whole of the Vincentian Family. Sr Marie said “the sun will never set on our Province – somewhere someone will always be serving the poor.”
I know that wherever I go in this world, and certainly in the 156 countries in which the Vincentian Family are present, I can feel instantly at home. You will be welcomed by your “family” who are all fighting for social justice for the most vulnerable in society, as they gently, simply, humbly and effectively minister to the poor.
There was a lovely moment in February 2020, which illustrates this, when the recently arrived Sisters of Charity of Untermarchtal, Germany arrived to set up a facility in Nairobi, Kenya to serve the disabled children of the Diocese. I was charmed by their enthusiasm in the new mission, and delight in seeing the Daughters of Charity, DREAM Centre sign, which included the words .. St Vincent de Paul. They entered knowing full well, they would be welcomed with open arms – and they were!
Blessings as you dig deep this Easter. May you feel embraced by the warmth of God as you rise, renewed. God bless you. God bless us all.
Dee Mansi is a lay member of AIC, Vincentian Collaboration Commission & Depaul Assembly; a retired School Principal, Schools Inspector and Leadership in Education Lecturer. Dee is Irish, living in London with her husband and son, she travels in Europe and beyond.
Opinions expressed are the author’s own views.