“We were, indeed, pilgrims on the same path, engaging each other in contemplative conversation. We were using the same concepts if not the same language and imagery, and saying so many of the same things. And that, after all, is what it’s all about isn’t it? It’s about being on this journey together, feeling our hearts burn within us, recognizing Jesus in nourishing bread and empowering word.” —- Monica Brown, OP, April 1996
These words were written by a friend of mine three years before she died. She was at the time just finishing a time of leadership in her Sinsinawa Dominican community. I had just entered religious life here in Minneapolis, moving here from Ypsilanti, Michigan where she and I were both in a Feminist Spirituality/Support Group for those in a variety of ministries. We became friends over civil discourse and differing opinions on the role of women in the Church. We did agree that we as sisters needed each other to be the best people we could be for those we came in contact with in chaplaincy work.
“While he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” — Luke 24:30-32
I missed Monica when she moved away to be more involved in her order’s leadership. We lost track of each other and I didn’t even tell her in person about my decision to join the Sisterhood. Her final gift to me arrived at the door of our Fremont House one early spring afternoon in the person of Sharon Bartlett, a neighbor who lived about a block from our monastery. She came bearing news of Monica. Monica wanted me to meet Sharon and to know that she herself was in hospice care and did not want visitors. Sharon and I became friends….companions on the journey.
Not many years later I was one of many who companioned Sharon during her struggle with gioblastoma. The in-between years we were sisters in spirit, caring for others here on the north side, feeding others on the nourishing bread and empowering Word that has been passed on to us.