A week-end retreat with the women
from the desolate city slum …
delight in grass, and flowers and shrubs;
joy, to be free for two whole days
of husbands, children and endless washing;
the balm of silence after a lifetime of noise;
happiness, to be quiet with God and friends.
Each of us chose a picture from the life of Jesus,
and let the details resound in our heart's core …
My heart still burns as I recall
the intimacy with which they spoke of
Jesus, companion, liberator, friend,
in their constant daily struggle to survive
Then, one woman's words dissolving
in racking sobs, touched and released
the pent-up sorrows of thirty others
until I was engulfed in a wave of grief
that the whole vast world could scarce contain.
Blinded by their tears, they reached out
to one another.
That too was a graced, a necessary, moment.
They comforted those most afflicted and went on;
strong and blessed women, even in moments
of intense grief there was always someone else
whose need was more urgent
Later, I watched them taking cuttings of favorite shrubs,
symbols of their passion for life, beauty and hope,
then, they set forth, renewed and full of joy,
to embrace the cross once more.
Columban Fr. Cyril Lovett lives and works in Ireland.