This is how all will know you for my disciples: your love for one another. (John 14:35)
Sometimes prosaic incidents can trigger something unexpected and significant. One such incident occurred to me at a Red Cross center while donating blood. The atmosphere of the room was subdued and cheerful. The donors were affable; some were nervous. As we proceeded from chair to chair for temperatures, blood testing, and waiting our turn, the talk was trite: the time a needle had been unsuccessful in reaching a vein, the cookies we would get after our donation, the next class at nearby St. Louis University… Finally, while lying down with my blood pouring into the correct packet, I looked around at the others in the room—male and female, young and not so young, some shy and some with exaggerated bravado—all leveled on very hard planks, each with their own thoughts, all of us anonymous to each other, and all destined to have our blood reach some other anonymous American. In the middle of my ruminations, the black woman who was taking my blood smiled and thanked me before leaving for home and a white woman replaced her to finish the task. Reflecting on the whole scene, I was overcome with a sudden rush of pride and love for these, my American brothers and sisters: the unobtrusive matter of fact way they had come in as if carrying out some routine duty instead of making a generous gesture, the patient and uncomplaining quietness in that huge room. I wonder why I never read in the headlines: Thousands of American shed blood daily without violence! Few experiences have been quite so vivid in giving me pride that I am an American. God bless America and gift its leaders with wisdom and peace-filled hearts!
—Sister Mary E. Penrose, OSB
|Sister Mary E Penrose is a Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. She edits readings for the liturgical Hours and writes reflections for the Community. And she is a tutor for the African Sisters attending The College of St. Scholastica. She was editor of a journal, Spirit & Life, for 18 years.|