Sr Narni fcJ writes from Rome about her experience of the lockdown. Narni is from Indonesia and has been in Rome attending the Programme for the Preparation of Formators 2020, organised by the International Union of Superior General (UISG). Before coming to Rome Sr Narni was part of the FCJ Myanmar community
I have been in Rome about five months, and since the end of January I have been learning about myself and about formation for those preparing for religious life. There have been many surprises for me during this time, above all, the experience of lockdown due to Covid 19. As I look back and reflect on my life journey, I am aware that God’s presence in my life here in Rome has led me in unforeseen ways. I feel blessed that God’s constant love has accompanied me in the many unexpected circumstances that I have lived though. I have been called to be open during this uncertain time.
Observing my surroundings while I have been living in Rome, I became aware that the huge crowds of people, families and tourists that I used to see when I arrived, had vanished. Everyone had to stay at home.
Every day and every night, I could hear the sirens of ambulances as they passed. So many people sick, so many dying and each day so many deaths. The coronavirus pandemic has made grieving and mourning part of life here. This called me into prayer and solidarity!
It is a challenging time for people all over the world. Many are suffering and struggling, especially the homeless. I have a deep concern for them all, I am full of sadness yet also feel so helpless. This called me into prayer of patient trust in God’s mercy!
At first, when people asked me how I was feeling, I would say ‘fine and okay’. Later, I moved into deeper feelings of real anxiety and fear during this uncertain time. Everyone is conscious of the need for physical distancing, washing hands, caring for self and others. This called me to trust in God’s care and protection!
I remember people with special roles during this challenging time. They give their lives for others in many ways: the medical services, the public services, cleaners, care givers, researchers, heads of families. Like Jesus, they show compassionate love, and sacrifice themselves for others. They take risks, theirs is a difficult but the worthy path. This called me to prayer for courage, generosity and great faith!
Moving from my busy activities into individual study and learning, I am still able to connect and communicate with people, friends and family. I am opening myself to another dynamic and sense of community and connectedness as I share and receive kindness, loving care and support. I am called to be more grateful!
Moving from many agendas and a detailed action plan into contemplative space, the noise and busyness of my mind moved into the silence of my heart, creating space for solitude and inviting me to face the reality of the here and now. It calls me to give meaning to my life!
Moving from going to public Mass in the church to small, community celebrations, I am spending more time in the silence of adoration, prayer and Eucharist, encountering and having conversation with Jesus, my faithful One, bringing into my prayers all those who are in need. In the evening, I offer to God the day that has passed, together with the mystery of the next day. This has called me into being open to God’s grace!
Moving from the cold weather of winter into the season of spring and then summer, God helps me to see the beauty in this limited space. I enjoy the blossoming trees, the flowers, the plants with new leaves of hope, the birdsong every morning, the flowing of fresh water, the birds flying in the clear, blue sky. I am called to cherish with joy the beauty of creation!
I believe that God is not absent. God is giving me a new hope, as I bring every single one of my stories into history of today. I am more deeply conscious of God’s presence in my daily life. I remember how many times I have had to leave my own expectations behind and to live in hope, and how God has renewed my hope time after time. Having conversation with Marie Madeleine and Jesus in my prayer, gives me peace and confidence in my heart.
Julian of Norwich’s quote comes to mind: “All shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well”. Yes, God is manifested in all of creation and I believe in God’s plan for our salvation. I shall not fully see and understand the love of God in all that has been happening until all is complete.
Finally, I am grateful for the grace of Companions along the way. I keep reflecting on the amazing mystery of God’s unending love in everything! Thanks be to God and my thanks to all who have helped me see and feel the surprising graces of love!
Photos taken by Narni fcJ at the Centro Ad Gentes, Nemi, Italy.