When my mother and I returned from evacuation for Hurricane Katrina in 2005, we visited her house – the house I grew up in – to survey the damage. It was extensive. The smell was oppressive and there was mold from floor to ceiling. Nothing was left untouched by the damage – well, almost nothing.I carefully walked through the house to my old room. My eyes scanned the room until they met with the crucifix that hung on the wall. The crucifix had been my mother’s, and her mother’s before her. There it was – still hanging on the wall in the midst of the destruction. Now the black wood of the cross was covered in mold.I walked toward it to look more closely at it, and realized that the corpus of Christ on the cross was untouched, pristine white. In the midst of the destruction, that was a symbol of hope. Christ’s love for us would never be overcome or defeated.We cleaned off the wood of the cross and wrapped it up and put it in the back of my bedroom closet in my apartment. Years later when I was preparing to leave New Orleans to enter religious life, I offered the cross to family members who told me to keep it. So I took the cross out of the closet and brought it to Duluth.It now stays with me in my room as a symbol of my calling as a Benedictine Sister to take up my cross and follow Christ in love.All of us, at some point in our lives, will be called to take our faith out of the closet, dust off the crosses we would rather not look at, let alone carry, and lift them high. If it weren’t for the cross of Hurricane Katrina, I daresay I might not be where I am, who I am now.It is in emptying ourselves that God fills us up and gives us the grace to be a force of love and transformation in the world, one life and heart at a time.
Sister Ann Marie Wainright
Sister Ann Marie Wainright is a Benedictine Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, she worked as a CPA for many years before earning dual masters degrees in counseling and pastoral studies. Sister Ann Marie is interested how people encounter God in their daily lives and how they use their faith and spirituality in meeting difficult challenges.