On Sunday afternoon, I received a voicemail message from a soft, kind voice. I couldn’t quite tell who it was until the sweet voice said, “Matt, it’s Sr. Geraldine.” She had read my blog post online and wanted to touch base since it had been a while since we had last talked. I called her back earlier this week. It was such a joy to have a brief conversation with Sister. She told me the blog post was beautiful and she loved it, so much so, she was going to print it and share it with the other sisters.
It was such a joy to talk with her, even if it was a short conversation. She is full of grace and kindness. I filled her in with my time of transition to a new congregation and that we are expecting. We both laughed when I said “When God brings change, God brings change.” I asked for her intercession for both my family and congregations. As she always does, Sister closed with a blessing “May the Spirit and love of Francis and Jesus be with you.”
The Body of Christ is much larger and beautiful than most of us think. I am reminded often of the expanse of God’s Kingdom and the Body of Christ around the world. This brief conversation with Sister Geraldine reminded me of another relationship I made four years ago in England. I remember meeting Brother Francis, a Benedictine Anglican monk in Salisbury, England. I was in England for the 2011 Wesley Pilgrimage that began in Salisbury. We stayed in the dorm facility of Sarum College in the Cathedral Close. As I began the short walk to the Anglican Cathedral, I walked next to an older, black robed monk. I knew right away he was Benedictine from the black robe. We talked as we walked to morning Eucharist and enjoyed a kind conversation. We decided to sit next to each other during worship.
(Photo of the monks of Salisbury, England. Brother Francis is in the front with the Cathedral in the background)
The next several mornings began in a similar way as I met Brother Francis and the other black robed brothers on the way to morning Eucharist. After several conversations and prayers offered together, it was time to depart Salisbury. I met Brother Francis outside of the ancient Sarum College, where the Sarum Breviary or Rite was written in the 11th C. (which is a way of prayer and ordering of public Christian worship), in front of the beautiful Salisbury Cathedral. We promised to stay in touch after my departure and we have for four years sending letters and “Holy”day cards to each other. Before we departed that day, Brother Francis placed his arms and black robe around me and gave me a hug and a “holy kiss” on my cheek. He said “Christ be with you and the blessing of our Virgin Mother be with you”, which is something he always writes at the end of his letters and cards.
The Body of Christ around the world is such a beautiful thing. As a Christian in any denomination, we need to embrace and love one another and offer each other a “holy kiss” of acceptance, kindness, and prayers.
(This is Brother Francis’ homemade Easter card.)