All will be well
“Love all in God and for God, and all will be well.”– Saint Mother Theodore Guerin
Putting her trust in Providence, Saint Mother Theodore Guerin lived confident that in loving and serving all, ‘all would be well.’ Most of us would agree that “well-being,” or “being well,” is a lovely concept and a noble goal for humans. But what does “being well” really mean? How can we realize it for ourselves and for our world?
Well-being versus well-doing
As a nurse whose responsibilities often center around “doing,” I take note that “well-being” is not the same as “well-doing.” It is, rather, the way that I exist — in this moment, in this time and in this place. “Being well” however, affects my ability to “do well.” Indeed, my well-being, our well-being, our physical, psychological and spiritual health, grounds what we do and how we interact in the world. It must be tended to. It must be nurtured. And it thrives in relationship with others.
I asked some Sisters of Providence to weigh in on what well-being means to them.
“Well-being is to be at peace with myself, where I am spiritually, physically and mentally,” Sister Barbara Reder said.
“Well-being, or being well, involves all of me: body, mind and spirit. I am alive, in the present moment, in the best or most optimal way I can be. It’s not a state of perfection, because that is out of my realm! It involves some choices on my part and certainly some good influence from those around me,” Sister Marsha Speth said.
For many of us in recent years, our sense of “well-being” may feel fragile. It is exceedingly difficult to feel confident that “all will be well.” War, climate change, natural disasters, political disorder, the pandemic — all pose serious threats to our sense of “well-being.” People of all ages are grieving the loss of loved ones, of broken relationships and of the world as they knew it. Many are struggling with some degree of dis-ease: with deep-seated fear, worry, anxiety, depression, even despair imposed on us by the state of the world. How can we release ourselves from the boundaries of our fear and create hope for healing? Where does one find the strength, the courage and the fortitude to persevere?
Present in the moment
Regrettably, there are no quick fixes or pills that will restore our sense that “all will be well.” The deeper issues facing our world at this time are simply out of our control. Nurturing our “well-being,” I believe, calls us to a different place. Not one of fixing or doing, but to one of being present in the moment, of taking note of the needs around us and making therapeutic choices for ourselves and for the communities in which we find ourselves.
Ministry of well-being In January of 2017, through a gift from a donor, Sisters of Providence initiated an intensive focus on “well-being.” The mission of this Sisters of Providence initiative, HOME, or “Helping Ourselves Meaningfully Engage,” is “to cultivate a community where well-being is encouraged, supported and nurtured, honoring every person so that all may thrive.”
The HOME initiative addresses ways to enhance “well-being.” Indeed, there seems to be no end to what can be imagined! Picnics at St. Joseph’s Lake. Concerts with Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. Creation of space with up-to-date technology for educational and social gatherings. Faith sharing groups. Grief support. Music therapy. Education for partnering with those living with dementia. Support for healthcare representatives. The list goes on. It all fits. And it is all intended to enhance well-being. Necessarily, it requires choice and balance. As Sister Pat Linehan said, “The balance comes in the choosing among the variety [of options] … or not!”
This “ministry of well-being” with the Sisters of Providence has convinced me that “being well” is a journey, not a destination. The journey is not easy; it is often fraught with obstacles, setbacks and not knowing where to turn. It can be overwhelming, and these feelings can happen to anyone at any time. It is real and it is common. Saint Mother Theodore had profound “confidence in Providence that so far has never failed us.” She knew that the “way was not yet clear” and that we must “grope along slowly.” She was patient. And she was trustful. Saint Mother Theodore also left a legacy of hope-filled ‘daughters’ who strive to share the charisms of love, mercy and justice through meaningful relationships, education and in community.