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Reflective Moments with Angela

By Sister Michele Morek

Several years ago, an elderly Sister was looking suspiciously at the baptismal font that formed a prominent feature of the newly renovated chapel in the motherhouse. Water continually welled up from the middle and spilled over into an outer well. I don’t know if she knew it came from a pipe underneath the floor, with a turn off/on valve, but she pointed indignantly at the new feature, scoffing, “You can’t tell me that’s holy water!” I pretended shock and said, “Sister, all water is holy!”

And I meant it. As a child of the desert who served for years in Kentucky with Water Watch and the Sierra Club Water Sentinels, I have a deep reverence for water.

For that matter, all the earth is holy. One of my favorite holy places in New Mexico has always been the Santuario de Chimayo. This lovely little adobe church features a side chapel with an infant Jesus surrounded by tiny pairs of baby shoes (brought by grateful pilgrims to replace his old ones, which he apparently wears out by running around the countryside doing good deeds.) In the same chapel is a tiny well, long dried up and full of sand. But the sand is collected by pilgrims into small containers and taken home, much as people would take Lourdes water with them. Judging by the number of crutches and braces hanging on the walls, it works!

I feel no less reverent about the holy well at Chimayo, just because once I saw the sacristan refilling the depleted well with a bucket of sand (probably from a nearby arroyo). No problem.

Because all earth is holy.

I’ll bet if our Pilgrim Mother Angela went to Chimayo on a pilgrimage, she would take some soil home, too – out of reverence for the faith of the pilgrims who confirm the holiness of the Santuario. She made lots of pilgrimages, and I imagine she felt the faith in the holy places of the Holy Land, when she visited in her blindness. (Can’t you feel it when you enter a place that is holy?) It’s how five of us Ursuline Sisters felt when we entered the Church of Saint Angela in Brescia, Italy, and saw our Mother Angela. Suddenly we morphed from sightseers to pilgrims.

It’s the way I feel in the redwoods, or any forest. Or on a high mesa, or at the foot of a mountain, or under the earth in Mammoth Cave. Or in the presence of our Sisters, friends, or loved ones.

Considering that everyone is a collection of atoms that were donated by every person who has been alive more than 10 years (that’s about how long it takes for atoms to get stirred around in the atmosphere) … and that you are made of stardust from early galaxies and exploding stars and solar winds that brought atoms from light years away, all to coalesce to make you, and our brothers and sisters and animal and plant friends on the planet.

I hope on Earth Day you celebrated our big bright glorious Earth, with its holy water and holy soil and holy people and holy life. Our Holy Earth.



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