Journals and Letters week 47: Letting things take their course
By now we have come to expect letters to Sister Basilide to be filled with Mother Theodore’s wise counsel and her customary frankness. She does not mince words. She reminds Basilide in these two letters that she has struggled with the question of returning to France for fifteen years, as long as they have been in America. Mother contrasts her own certainty about staying in her beloved Indiana with Basilide’s uncertainty. “You have always looked back at that dear country with regret for having left it.”
Letting Sister Basilide decide
And yet, Mother Theodore assures Sister Basilide that she is entirely free to return to France if that is her desire. How costly that must have been for Mother Theodore. How hard it would be to be willing to “let her go.” One on whom she depended for so much. Mother does not seek to end Basilide’s uncertainty by putting her foot down and telling her to make up her mind and be done with it.
No, in Mother’s great wisdom, she knows that letting things take their course is the better solution in Basilide’s case. And we finally learn how the situation plays out. The editor writes that when Basilide visited France on Congregation business ten years later, that “her heart was at Saint Mary’s. Four months away from her ‘dear woods’ cured her forever … ” Another example for us of “groping along slowly.”
Love one another
Mother Theodore’s long letters to Sister Mary Xavier in Vincennes and to Sister Maria in Madison have a common theme, loving one another. She advises Mary Xavier to “bear with the defects of others. Endeavor not to cause others to suffer, and you yourself try to endure the little annoyances which are unavoidable in the necessary relations with others.” In the letter to Sister Maria, we have a similar admonition — “To suffer everything from others and not make others suffer.” And I have always found her words to Maria more than challenging: “Try to bear everything from others without making them bear anything from you.” Wow! How different our lives would be if we lived each day from that perspective. How different our society would be!
What advice of Mother Theodore’s speaks to you in your present situation?
Are there instances in your life where Mother Theodore’s patience with Basilide might be a good path to follow?
Next week: page 416 mid-page to page 422 lower page
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