April 2016 – Easter
This morning I found myself with the urge to pick up the phone for a chat with you as we have so often done in recent times. So I thought it was time to spend a moment with you and to remember the stretch of the journey that was given us to take together.
You know that these words are not a farewell. We already said goodbye last October when we met in Salamanca. A day we both enjoyed and took pleasure in upon meeting again after a few months without seeing each other. We were both aware that it would probably be the last time we would be together physically and we treated ourselves to spend one morning sharing the passage of God in our lives at that time and being grateful for everything we had experienced.
What really moves me to write is the certainty of having witnessed in your person what the Lord can do in his creature when it allows him and surrenders itself into his hands. And so, Maria, allow me to share with anyone who may wish to read and be helped, a part of what your life and your person have been.
During the time when it came to you to face illness and by the way you did it, you know that I told you many times that your life showed clearly how true was the saying that “nothing is improvised in this life.” The two separate sections of life’s journey that we shared made me see this.
We lived together in Salamanca when I was in the novitiate and you were part of the formative community, an assignment that you combined with accompanying your father and your sister Teresa in the village. You had come from Rome two years earlier, and far from showing grief and sadness for what entailed leaving for some time the Italian land which you loved so much, it was with joy and availability that you accepted God’s will manifested in your father’s worsening condition. You were going back and forth to the village on weekends, you participated in the daily life in the novitiate like everyone else, and you had the ability to be truly there wherever at any moment you thought you had to be. The age difference with the novices and having experienced a religious lifestyle different from ours, never kept us from feeling your respectful closeness to what each one was experiencing. You knew how to approach each one according to how we were, always welcoming and never judging anything we were doing or saying. For many of us, you were Maria, with your life, the testimony of the true Daughter of Jesus that all of us felt invited to be and who had brought us that far.
Availability led us to live together again in Sevilla. At the age of 79 when everything would make one think that it was time to retire after many stages of dedication, you received the assignment to cross the Spanish geography from north to south to reinforce the community and collaborate in the needs of the educational work of Sevilla. Those of us who lived with you at that time are witnesses to the effort that it must have cost you to adjust to a cultural reality and a context different from what you had lived until that moment. Your desire to cooperate, help and love … soon made us begin hearing from you about how content you were to live in a full and happy moment of your life. In the community you contributed your knowing how to be with at all times, your word and timely gesture, being a binding link, and your experience of God. You always knew how to value what each one of us was and whatever was positive in any situation we were living.
These days too, Maria, with joy and gratitude, we hear the testimony of many people to whom you did much good from your cheerful and generous service at the entrance hall of the School. And when you were most enjoying community life and apostolic service, came your turn to identify with Jesus stripped, through illness. Once more, Maria, we witnessed your ability to embrace God’s will with simplicity and consistency from the events that unsettle us and make us change plans … You had many reasons for sickness to stop you, and yet in those circumstances, you knew how to get out of yourself and be aware of others, and be concerned that the people you loved would not suffer for your sake.
You yourself, Maria, shared with many of us that the two years of illness were for you a process to gradually accept serenely the final encounter with the Lord, to the point of saying that you were prepared, calm, without fear …
The last time we met, you told me that what had always sustained you in moments of difficulty and weakness in your life were the Lord’s words: “Fear not, I am with you”, and that you’ve always wanted that to be a reality in your life. I myself saw how your eyes became filled with radiant life and you were smiling most beautifully when you told me that you were experiencing how those words of the Gospel were coming true in you, that you were not afraid of death and that you experienced that the Lord was with you. Well, Marieta, you have already arrived! I’m sure you’ve appreciated the loving embrace of the Father upon meeting Him. Today you already live the fullness of life without pain or suffering. Those of us who feel the hollow left by your absence are consoled by the knowledge that you already form part of the cloud of witnesses who precede us, that you’re still watching over us and interceding for us, and the day we get to the final encounter with Him you will be one of the first people we will be with, because you will be at heaven’s entrance welcoming with your cheerful smile all of us passing through to the bosom of the Father.
Thank you for letting yourself be formed to be Daughter by embracing the events of life, and Sister of all who shared a stretch of life with you!
A kiss, María del Mar Domínguez FI