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  • Sr. Ellen Francis, OSH

Hitting the Wall

Updated: Mar 16, 2023

Some months ago, just when I thought the COVID trends were getting better and just when I thought I was doing ok and coping pretty well—I hit the wall. I didn’t even see it coming. Like walking into a glass door with no warning, I was suddenly pancake-flat against an immovable surface.


Once I realized what had happened, I was feeling a little sheepish. After all, I’m a religious sister and should know how to manage my spiritual life! I should know how to pray myself out of any predicament!


COVID-tide stretches on (and on, and on, and O Lord, how long??), and other world challenges continue to demand our attention and prayer. Sometimes I manage to stay centered and calm and patient. Sometimes anxiety and my least-good self gets the better of me. Sometimes I just try to get through the day.


In these times, the Daily Office has been sustaining me more than ever. Each day, I can move deeply into the scriptures and into the chants that have echoed in monastic chapels for centuries. As we sing the ancient psalm tones, the beauty of the music lifts me up, and I sometimes hear an echo of the endless alleluias of the angels in heaven. The well-turned cadences of the language of the Office touch my heart and resonate with my soul.


I am drawn away from the immediate sadness and grief, into an eternal time, where the present troubles appear in proportion to the many vicissitudes of human history. In this process, I’m not dropping out of the current troubles, nor turning my back, but rather tapping into the deep well of God’s faithfulness and healing goodness. I can name the many challenges of the present time and name the individuals who have asked for our prayers, and then give these over to the One who can gently hold all our grief, with eternal compassion.


I have since peeled myself off the wall and straightened my glasses. I try to keep connecting with the deep well of spiritual sustenance I receive from companionship with my sisters, from our communal prayer, and from the presence of the Divine which always encourages me on the path.


–Sr. Ellen Francis, OSH

How has your prayer changed during the time of COVID? What are you praying for now?

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