by Judy Miske
Since I first made my covenant as an Associate of the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio in 2001, I often reflect on the community Mission Statement which was written in 1998 and what it means in my life today:
“. . .called like Francis of Assisi to live the Gospel in joyful servanthood among all people. . .”
Each one of the words live… joyful…and servanthood, ring true for me in trying to be an authentic Franciscan. For me, to live something is to bring it into every day of living and to be consciously aware of my commitment. It’s more than just saying it- it’s being it in the choices I make, looking for those precious opportunities to greet people with a smile. I am gifted with these opportunities because I live in a senior apartment building. I meet residents in the hallway, at the mail room and laundry room. When they look at me, I can see loneliness and forgetfulness in their faces. I smile and it changes things.
I recently read a quote of Mother Teresa of Calcutta: “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a beautiful thing,” When that happens, I believe it is one of God’s gifts of a graced encounter. Something as simple as a smile, can be for me, a way of serving that person with a gift of recognizing their value. I have experienced that speaking a person’s name makes the gesture even more meaningful! A smile creates a joyful face.
Recognizing a person’s Birthday or showing concern for an illness or death in someone’s family, is definitely an opportunity for living the Gospel in joyful servanthood among all people.
I continue to frequently reflect on the words of the Mission Statement…as messengers of peace- I bond with the community in committing myself to works that reverence human dignity, embrace the poor and marginalized, (that needs a lot of reflection) and respect the gift of creation!
Even after almost 22 years of being an Associate, this Mission statement is an important focus for me in my prayer, action, and in conversation about its meaning and practice.