Happy are the people who know the festal shout,
who walk, O Lord, in the light of your countenance;
I’m pretty sure we all know someone who embodies these words, someone who simply glows with God’s light. One of those is Sister Norma.
I met Sister Norma while I was in seminary. I was working for the Interfaith Network for Higher Education Ministries, a not-for-profit providing motivational workshops and speakers for educators. She was the President of our Board and very involved in our work so I interacted with her a great deal. This was kind of a problem for me, because I was still very angry over what I had been taught by priests and nuns in my youth, and that anger carried over to all priests and nuns. It was hard not to let that anger interfere with our work together. So one day I told her when and where I had been raised, and how I felt.
She did not speak in defense of my teachers. She did not say “Not all nuns.” She simply said that she was sorry. She shared her understanding of God with me, which was a far cry from the angry God I had been introduced to as a child. From that day forward I felt easier working with her. We often talked about theology and our mutual love for God and God’s work. Over the next couple of years my feelings about the Church of my upbringing began to change.
“Happy are the people . . . who walk, O Lord, in the light of your countenance.” Sister Norma was one of those people. The light of God’s countenance shone from her soul out into the world. The warmth of that light caused my heart to begin to thaw, and my anger to start to melt away. It would be another fifteen years before I felt healed, before I truly felt forgiveness in my heart, but Sister Norma started that process.
This morning I learned that Sister Norma has left us to walk a closer walk with her Lord. She has joined that choir of saints whose festal shout fills the heavens by day and by night. She will be missed.
Gracious God, thank you for Sister Norma. Thank you for all your saints who show us the way to your love and shine your light into our world. May we be like them, sharing your love with everyone we meet. Amen