Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Day 12 - Ash Wednesday - Books without dust jackets

If you were to go into a library where none of the books were wearing book jackets, and you were to peruse the shelves, you wouldn't have much information to go on - title, author - but the old adage, "You can't tell a book by its cover," would be very true.
So it is for me at the IHM Motherhouse. I go into the dining commons and sit down at a table with other women - pleasant, friendly, welcoming. They are books without dust jackets. They seem not very exceptional, not very distinct, even, from one another. Then conversation starts, and I begin to hear their stories. Then it's a whole other thing. These women of the Sister Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary have had amazing careers. They have had extraordinary experiences.

The other day I got to know Sister Therese (Marie Therese LaBlanc, IHM). I listened to this lovely woman telling of such adventures as I had never heard! I googled her name and came up with this little YouTube in which she is making a political appeal for clean air. Take a look at her face. Would you guess this woman had been a key figure in airlifting hundreds of orphans and adults out of Vietnam during the fall of Saigon. She tells stories of making her way across the city with another IHM sister, avoiding groups of young cadets who were shooting everyone who had broken the curfew. She tells of the pilot who took off with a cargo full of babies even though ordered not to -- lifting off just in time, in the darkness . . . and making it safely to the U.S. with their cargo. Gracious!

Or another who told me of doing pastoral ministry in the remote jungles of Honduras.

A library of stories - hiding behind the facade of gentle faces, white hair, some walkers and canes - the "retired" sisters of IHM, who, as far as I can see, are ALL still working!! And a couple of years ago, we see Sr. Theresa still active, asking for legislation on environmental issues.