No, not that one. Although, as a child of a devout Roman Catholic family, she was undoubtedly named after the Mother of Jesus!
But this Mary is a School Sister of St. Francis and was my spiritual director for nearly twelve years, holding the light of Christ before me in good times and bad, through times of great loss and times of great rejoicing. Yesterday, I drove for three hours through a snow storm to have coffee with her, now in retirement and taking care of an elderly sister in the family home.
We had set up the visit when I knew I would be home for the holidays, but didn’t anticipate the bad weather. No matter: a little time with this saint of God is worth more than a little inconvenience.
We commiserated about the brokenness in both our churches, recognizing as always that there is no “perfect church” but that we are called to remain firmly grounded where God has planted us and work for the renewal and unity that only God can bring.
We spoke of the experience, common to both of us, of being driven ever-deeper into the primary relationship with God when the “props” of our institutions are taken away or are no longer up to the task. We spoke of the Beatitudes which she is studying anew…and the Lord’s Prayer which has become somehow new and fresh to both of us in recent years.
I admitted my surprising appreciation of Pope Benedict’s encyclicals and some of his writing and she agreed, having just finished reading his book on Jesus. “Very high Christology,” she observed, “but I’ve also enjoyed Marcus Borg — and his relatively low Christology. We’re still wrestling with the tension of Christ being both God and Man, aren’t we?”
And so it went. Personal stories, some theology, some talk about prayer and worship. And, as always, I came away refreshed and renewed. As with so many fine spiritual directors, it’s not so much what Mary says as who she is. I miss her.
But, we’ll stay in touch. We have to…