Caring for Our Trailblazers

Sister Anne Marie Emdin, MMIn the gospel of St. John (21:18), Jesus says to Peter, “When you were young, you were able to do what you liked and go where you wanted to; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands and others will direct you and take you where you don’t want to go.”

While I was at Maryknoll, NY, getting checked out for health reasons (aside from my problem of  being “fat,” which I have known for 70+ years), I took the opportunity to visit the Maryknoll Sisters who are now living on our “Archcare” section of the main part of our mission center. These are Sisters, who in my younger days as a Maryknoll Sister, were the “movers and changers” of community and mission life.

They opened missions in different lands, founded schools, hospitals, homes for unwanted girls (and sometimes boys), and were “trailblazers” that we dreamt would be our future.

Today, age and failing health have them holding out their hands while others lead them in some of the very basic necessities of daily living.  I did not find them downcast however but saw in them a deeper sense of mission as they reached out to the caretakers and to each other in order to make their situation as much of a mission to others today as they did in their very active past history.  Their days are punctuated by times of prayer, physical and mental activities, and sharing life with one another and their caretakers. That which made them then and now keeps them true missionaries! Seeing and, in a small way, sharing with them their present lifestyles was what really made my two-month stay a Maryknoll a very full and enjoyable time.

I did, however, also have a grand week with my sister who took me with her to a three-day camping experience with the children from the Thea Bowman Day Care Center where she volunteers. I was asked to “help” with the various arts and crafts for groups from kindergarten to high school, and although I did enjoy it immensely, I know the elderly are my forte. Children you teach, the elderly you just enjoy!