The Death of a Dear Friend
I hated to miss the Equinox Service at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, that I had helped plan. But, I wanted to have at least one night with the Sisters of Benedict from Red Plains Priory that I prayed with for 20 years while I was in Oklahoma. The first sister I met from that community was Sister Benedicta Boland, OSB. Bennie, as she was affectionately called, I believe, is a mystic; a joyful, enthusiastic lover of God and people.
I remember her from the early days of Cursillos in McAlester, Okla., in 1976-79. I don’t know if she was Liturgy Director for the Diocese of Tulsa at that time, but I remember her enthusiasm for the Holy Spirit and for the experience of the Christian community that is Cursillo.
One of her favorite things to do was call me up and say, “Marymo, this is Benniebo.” I got one of those calls in the spring of 1982 when I had injured my back. She said, “We’re coming down to get you.” I would have had to have an ambulance to take me from Durant, Okla., to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, but the Benedictines took me in and took care of me until I was able to go back to work.
Later, I made the Spiritual Exercises under her direction and then followed in her footsteps to lead them myself.
When I got to Atchison on Thursday, Sept. 22, I was thrilled to pray the Divine Office and an Equinox Service with the sisters there. Bennie was her usual enthusiastic self. She had been on hospice for months, but she glowed with life, smiling and enjoying her visitors, and the new sister there who led the Equinox Service.
The following morning, I attended Mass and Office with her and then had some quiet time with her in her room. She said, “The light (or Jan remembers, the life) of the Trinity is the perfect surrender of each Person to the others.” Then, taking my hand and again glowing with the energy of her love proclaimed with the whole energy of her mystic experience: “That’s what we have to do.”
When I got back to the Woods on Sept. 29, I had two calls that evening telling me Bennie had died.
I am convinced that she went from that yearning for surrender to a complete experience of life enmeshed in the Trinity.