Three practices of the abundant life from Sr. Bridget Haase, O.S.U.
God is everywhere. It’s easy to see Him in good times: a new marriage, a healthy baby coming into the world, a promotion at work. Days spent in harmony with family, friends and the world makes it easy to pause and say, “Thank you, God, for all my blessings.”
But when an unexpected tragedy happens, where is God then? When your mother no longer knows you because of the ravages of Alzheimer’s, how can you be thankful? As you serve the needs of the poor, how do you survive being surrounded by misery?
Ursuline Sister Bridge Haase, O.S.U. offers her life experiences in her upcoming workshop, “Walking the Path of Faith: Three Practices of the Abundant Life,” which will be presented at the Gather Us In 2013 Women’s Conference on November 2nd at the DCU Center.
She has lived through all of these experiences.
At the age of twenty-nine, Sister Bridget lost her father to suicide. As with most suicides, it was completely unexpected. “My mother lost the house and the car because of debt. She had never worked outside the home and only had $12 to her name,” says Sister.
Mother and daughter grieved and lived through anxious times coping with the aftermath. Sister recalls spending the following two years in spiritual darkness (“The lights were off!”). As a school teacher, she had to don her mask each day and leave her personal problems at the door. “Weekends were spent with Mama crying,” she says. “It was a major challenge.”
As randomly as the tragedy befell her, the light switch went back on and peace came over her. Her darkness was over and now she uses her experience to help others.
“One desperate act does not destroy the goodness of a life,” she said, referring to her father. “There is only one way through and it’s very painful. You go through it step by step with many regrets but you have to say ‘What happened, happened’ and acknowledge that God is in the moment. The power of God’s mercy doesn’t begin when it’s deserved but when it’s undeserved. None of us deserve God’s mercy.”
Sister Bridget is big believer in living in the present moment. That realization deepened as she cared for her dear Mama who suffered from Alzheimer’s. As she was feeding her mother chocolate ice cream during a visit, Sister recalled childhood memories of getting that treat regularly from her mother. Reflecting on that thought, she noticed her mother now, smacking her lips, enjoying the ice cream, and it hit home: her mother had nothing but the present moment to live in. There were no memories, no plans for the future. And Sister realized that she herself was wasting precious time with her mother mired in regrets about what could no longer be. She was created anew in the present moment, thus enabling her to give to her mother her all when she needed it most.
At present, Sister Bridget, along with her brother, Fr. Albert Haase, OFM do a weekly radio program together, “Spirit and Life,” carried every Saturday on the Relevant Radio syndicated network (you can “like” their Facebook page, “Spirit and Life on Relevant Radio”). She is also the author of Generous Faith: Stories to Inspire Abundant Living, published by Paraclete Press. She and Fr. Albert use their life experiences, sprinkled with a mix of poignancy and infectious humor, to demonstrate how faith grows in any circumstance.
One of those experiences was Sister’s time in the Sudan running a feeding center during a time of famine and war. “There were 12,500 people in the camp with hundreds of children sitting in the dirt,” she says. “The people were very grateful, very reverent despite the fact that bombs and guns were going off in the distance.”
She continues, “People would gather firewood, it would take three hours. They would receive porridge with powered milk. One boy began a hymn of thanks as was custom in his Muslin faith and all the children joined him. It became a daily occurrence. It was a touching moment of living in the present: all the boy saw was milk coming. He knew God cared.”
These stories are just a taste of what Sister Bridget will share in her inspiring workshop. Mark the date of November 2nd on your calendar and watch for announcements for registration for Gather Us In 2013 on the Commission for Women website, www.worcestercommissionforwomen.org.