Faithfulness

Plaques for the "overlijden" at the BeguinageFaithfulness, traditionally associated with marriage, although an archaic concept in today’s modern world, is alive and well here at the Béguinage, and I suspect at other convents and monasteries as well.

Every day I pass through a long quiet corridor/hall on the way to the Convent chapel. Here I pass 50 carved stone plaques with red lettering marking all of the Benedictine sisters at the Béguinage who have gone this way before me, 50 years, 35 years, 23 years, 67 years of profession. Wow! (That will not happen to me being 60 years old when I became a sister.) More than once I have paused to reflect on their faithfulness, read  their names, and mused on their earthly journeys. If eternity is timeless, not temporal, then these sisters are here beside me on my journey only a little way ahead on the path.

Dutch has a wonderful word, overlijden, which means dead but more like a crossing over from suffering to something infinitely better. It truly seems so as I patter down the hall after the evening meal, following the long, black swishing habits with white veils to the dark and quiet corridor. On the anniversary of each overlijden sister, the remaining sisters gather at the stone plaque, a candle is lit, prayers are said by the Prioress and the Ego Sum Resurrectio (I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth in me although he be dead yet shall he live. Everyone that believeth in  me shall not die but will live forever”) is sung  concluding with Requiescat in pace. Peace… Quiet… Silence. We all slip away; one by one silently into the dark quietness. This is faithfulness.

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