Due to really difficult issues for me this past year, besides the COVID pandemic, I asked for a two-week vacation time with my family in September. I have never in my 40 years as a Benedictine taken two weeks vacation with family, but I had prayed about this situation and felt God was telling me to “ask for what you need.”
Yes, I have travelled for much longer when I took students on study abroad. However, these two weeks were necessary for me to reconnect with my brothers. I needed to feel loved and bonded by family. We had lost our sister, Sharon, in October last year just two weeks after her husband died. Neither death was due to COVID, but because they were so close together, we reeled from the losses.
Sharon was the one who kept in touch with each of us regularly, and we could ask her how everyone else was doing. She and her husband loved to travel because his family came from Vermont and New York. Their only son lives in Cincinnati.
So, when the glue came undone, so did I, since they came to visit me here at St. Ben’s at least three times a year. They stayed for four or five days so we really could catch up. In fact, Sharon and I often finished a jigsaw puzzle during our time together. You know how easy it is to talk while you look for the right colors and shapes of puzzle pieces. We’d also go shopping and then go out to eat, sometimes taking the guest house director with us. It was always a good time.
They were known in our dining room, too, since we often ate here as well. In fact, many sisters have told me they’ve missed seeing them this past year. Al, my brother-in-law, was a tall man and was hard to miss among us! He also was a very gregarious man who loved to joke around.
Now, at the time of their one-year death anniversary, I am ready to tell the world how much I love them and miss their visits. I want to acknowledge Benedict’s wise words as he tells us to put all our hope and love in God. God hears us and tells us what to do.
Mary Jane Berger, OSB
Photo: Our monastery cemetery, taken by Amanda Hackett