Easter reminds us that death is not the end
During a recent visit with our sisters in Taiwan, I had a new experience that touched me very deeply.
The Taiwanese people annually observe “Tomb Sweeping Day.” During this national holiday, families visit the tombs of their family members to clean the area, arrange bouquets of flowers and to pray for their deceased loved ones.
We visited two tombs during the holiday — that of Mother Marie Gratia Luking who went to China in 1920 and fled to Taiwan in 1945. She was a remarkable woman, cut out of the same cloth as Saint Mother Theodore Guerin. To pray at her tomb with our sisters, to recall the remarkable work of the Sisters of Providence in China and Taiwan, put me in touch with how Providence continues to work through human persons who love God.
We also visited the grave of Sister Regina Mary Wallace, who died in Taiwan in 2012. Again, we cleaned, arranged flowers and prayed. As at Mother Marie Gratia’s tomb, I was so aware of the designs of Providence lived out in the life of this intelligent, gentle and strong Sister of Providence.
As we commemorate Holy Week and especially Good Friday, I find myself thinking often about Tomb Sweeping Day. While at the tombs of our sisters, we were one small group among hundreds of groups. We noticed expressions of raw grief — tears, anguished faces, and comforting embraces. We observed quiet prayer and the tender laying of bouquets. We heard families telling stories of their loved ones and enjoying the sharing of memories.
Aren’t these the movements of these last days of Holy Week? Through the Gospel stories, we participate in the Last Supper, walk the Way of the Cross and witness the crucifixion of Jesus. In doing so, we touch into the raw grief of acknowledging the presence of death in our lives and the life of the world’s people.
As we welcome the Light of Christ during the Easter vigil and sing our alleluias once again, we feel renewed in the certainty of a life that never ends, a life already entered into by our beloved ones who have crossed over from death to life.
Let us then pray with one another during this most Holy Week — that we may continue to give witness to that life that never ends, to that Love that never abandons us, to that hope that keeps us going in the face of all sorts of difficulties and trials. Let us sing our alleluias with joy and energy — knowing that Providence never fails us.
Happy Easter to you and yours! Know you are held in the prayer of the Sisters of Providence every day.
Sister Denise Wilkinson, SP