Dear Sor Juana
The season of Christmas is upon us and the remains of turkey and pudding will be tempting to find their way to my mouth over the next couple of days. Masquerading as left overs they will still be centre stage. Crumbs, wrapping paper, ribbons – all get recycled sooner or later. The festival and feasting linger before the new year begins.
So often I think our church, Sor Juana, is a remnant, where we are hanging on to the few remaining unraveling threads, and then Christmas comes and churches are full of hope and promise, families reunited, carols filling once empty cavities and a little person, like all little people divine and complete in their goodness, untouched by the world and the temptations to come. Unblemished by fear, greed, pride, envy and all the other sin that eat away at simplicity, humility, hope, joy: the little one is there, amongst us, being adored as all children should be.
In the convent Sor Juana this would have been a time of prayer and feasting too! Perhaps you treated your Sisters to poems and songs, perhaps you gave yourself a treat and gazed at the stars for longer than usual, connecting your night sky to that of Bethlehem’s.
In our sky, we had a full moon for Christmas Day, the first time in 38 years, and although cloud cover early in the evening concealed her from view, once the clouds released their load of rain, she was able to be seen and we were refreshed. When we are carrying a load, our true selves can’t always be seen either and often it takes the tears to be shed before we too are refreshed and renewed.
The remains of this year will be echoed in the years to come.
This is my last letter to you and it is time to say good bye Sor Juana. Thank you for travelling with this pilgrim in 2015. You have been a faithful companion and have drawn me to places where you found comfort and joy – words, the sky, community and prayer, silence and service. In looking over my letters to you I see those elements of your life entwined in the thoughts I’ve shared. Left overs from your table and your story have found their way to me across the ages and pockets of souvenirs from your worlds, benefactors and visitors, have found their way into my words. Your oft quoted line: I did not study to learn more, but to ignore less, is a solid foundation and will remain with me.
Your ability to speak up and then to choose silence as your final word has been instructive. And this is where I will leave our conversation, investing in understanding for that is where there is wealth and in the silence knowing a blank page speaks as well as one full of words.