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Day of the Dead — All Souls Day

Saint Mother Theodore Guerin’s resting place in the convent cemetery.

My least favorite explanation for anything is that’s just the way it is.

I can instantly feel the resistance rise up inside me. Reflection over the years has brought me to the realization that I resist the statement of fact because I don’t like the fact-in-question itself.

Case in point – death.

I get it – everything and every person undergoes the process of death. I appreciate the lessons learned from seeds and seasons and dying stars. I am deeply moved standing at the bedside of one of our sisters as she makes her passage through death. I marvel at those whose love and courage allow them to give up their lives for others.

But I don’t like it – I’d prefer another way. For me the fact of death is the ultimate challenge in accepting the explanation it’s just the way it is.

Over the years, like everyone, I’ve had to grapple with death of family members, friends, co-workers. I’ve mourned for those who died young and tragically and for those who lived the fullness of years. I’ve even felt relief at the death of one who suffered terrible physical pain or lingering debilitating illness.

Over the years – because it’s just the way it is – I’ve sought in my faith tradition, in prayer and conversation with others, in the healing practices of honoring the dead, the reasons for my resistance and the beauty of the plan of God.

Resistance? I miss the person I love and want her/his presence as I’ve known it – not as it is available to me in the loved one’s transformation into new life. It’s as simple as that for me.

Beauty of the plan of God? In the cycle of seed to fruit to seed to fruit, it is easier for me to see how the dying transforms to new, fuller life. In the death of a loved one, I know it in my head, depend on it in my faith, and pray to open myself to experience the presence of that person in a new way. In other words, I guess I’m trying to embrace it’s just the way it is in a way that opens me to fuller awareness, more authentic belief in the boundless mystery of LIFE.

Perhaps the way it is holds the tenderness of Providence in ways I do not yet see, know, feel, experience – but could if I open my head and heart to the Way who leads us to truth and life.

Let us pray for one another as we move through these mysteries of life and death!

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Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise was the general superior of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods from 2006-2016. She previously served as a high school teacher, college administrator, postulant/novice director and director of advancement and communications for the Congregation. Currently, Sister Denise serves the Congregation in various volunteer positions.

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