Anecdotes and Antidotes

April 7, 2020 | Reflections from Sr Antonia


Psalm. 30:14

Fear, along with shame, is probably one of the most primitive of feelings. And it is all around us now: whether spoken or unspoken, it reverberates across the nations. I have been pondering this and thinking about how fear has its roots in our need for survival…our need to try to ward off death; our fear of being alone; our fear of pain, of suffering, of losing a loved one, of not getting enough to eat.

Those of us who believe in prayer are all praying for a breakthrough in the development of a vaccine to stem the pandemic. And prayer is vital. Yet I am thinking of the words of Jesus: “Do not be afraid”. How easy that is to say, and what a gigantic step to actually take. I can see, and I also experience, that the way out of fear is to go out of ourselves and simply be there for others. Kindness is the key. My experience this morning convinced me of this. I had put my sheets in the washing machine and then went off to prayer… all very mundane. However I want to share what happened afterwards.

I was in our yurt prayer room praying before the Blessed Sacrament when the husband of a close and much loved friend, rang to let me know that my friend had died just fifteen minutes earlier. We had known she was dying from leukaemia so it was not unexpected. However, in my very real grief I forgot all about my sheets until well into the afternoon. I hurried to the laundry to rescue them from the machine but they weren’t there. Some very, very kind sister had found them in the machine and hung them out to dry for me. Not only that, but they were left at my cell door that evening lovingly ironed and folded carefully. (I can assure you whilst in my care those sheets have never been introduced to an iron, let alone folded perfectly…not my gifts!)

The contrast between the simplicity of the gesture and the profundity of its effect stunned me. Yet my aching heart felt soothed, as though someone had gently massaged it a little, and my soul soared with hope. Love is more powerful than death! My friend is free now, her suffering is behind her. And the living? We go on living. .

I put a notice on our board thanking the sister who had looked after my sheets and telling her, whoever she was, that I had asked God to bless her. It was not the fact that the sheets had been looked after that had kindled such joy in me. Rather, it was the implicit kindness in what she did that had affected me so profoundly. That comfort should come through such a mundane act as sheets hung out to dry has been a real lesson for me.

How can such such grief and sorrow coexist with such joy and lightness of heart? I have no answer to that which is mystery, nor do I really want to search for answers. My only response is a silent thank you to God, as I know without a doubt that God used that simple gesture as a way of saying I am with you; a way of holding me close. God cared!

“If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is
that would be enough”
Meister Eckhart

I have chosen to share this story because it was such a profound experience for me… a healing in a way, even as my tears flowed.

I think that kindness is the key to the future, not just for our community or for Australia, but for the world. Nothing can replace the bond that forms between the giver and receiver of kindness. It is like super glue, it stays forever. Not only that, but it engenders kindness in the receiver and inspires her/ him to acts of kindness. The physicists tell us that everything, absolutely everything, vibrates with connectedness. We are ONE. We can easily break the connections through hate and greed and selfishness, or we can make them through actions that are motivated by kindness and love. “Love is all we need” sang the Beetles around 50 years ago. And it was the song Jesus sang thousands of years ago.

The antidote to fear is kindness, buckets and buckets of kindness; little buckets, and big buckets and all the in between sized buckets. Apart from prayer, kindness is the only thing that can transform this global crisis into a gift for the world, for it dispels fear, the other virus that is also running rampant through our city streets and behind closed doors

Choose life. Choose love. Choose kindness.

Blue Doves
“Blue Doves” by Daniel Bonnell