A Letter from the Desert
We turn to you, sisters living behind walls, to ask for your prayers. We ask during this time of special
danger and struggle which our communities are experiencing, that you keep your arms raised like
those who did so for Moses on the mountain. .
Teach us the art of being content with nothing, of living in a confined space, without going out but
yet with the art of being charged with the need for that inner journey which requires neither fresh
air nor trains. “Give us some of your oil” so we can learn that the spirit cannot be imprisoned and
that the smaller the space, the greater is the opening onto the heavens.
Teach us that it is possible to live with very little and to live in joy. Remind us that poverty is the
unavoidable condition of every being because, as Primo Mazzolari has said, “to be poor, we only
have to be human.” Teach us again about the savour of little things, you who smile at a lily flowering
outside the window and who salute the swallows when they come to tell us that spring has arrived,
you who are moved by sorrow and yet can still delight in the miracle of bread rising in the oven. Give
us back that delight in the small things.
Tell us that it is possible to be close without being together in the one place, that we can
communicate from afar, kiss without touching, enrich each other with the caress of a glance or a
smile, quite simply, just to look at each other. Remind us that the word is important if it has matured
for a long time in the heart, if it has been lightened in the storeroom of the heart, if we see it flower
on the lips of another when it is spoken quietly, without shouting or being sharpened to wound.
Above all, teach us the art of silence, of the light which touches the windowsill, of the sun who rises
‘like a bridegroom coming from his chamber’, or the art of the sunset in a heaven tinged with fire, of
the evening quiet, of the lit candle which throws a shadow across the walls of the choir.
Tell us again that it is possible to wait for and embrace, even to wait a lifetime, because ‘there is a time for embracing and a time a time refrain from embracing’ as Quoheleth says. President Contas said that when this time of danger and restriction is over, we will once again embrace with
celebration. For you, Sisters, there have already been twenty, thirty, forty years of waiting…
Teach us to do things slowly with solemnity and without rushing, to pay attention to details because
every day is a miracle, every encounter is a gift, every step an entrance into the throne room, like
the step in a dance or the movement of a symphony.
Whisper to us that it is important to wait, to send a kiss, a gift, a caress, a word, because waiting for
the feast strengthens the light because ‘the best is yet to be’. Help us to understand that an accident
can be a grace, and a disappointment can hide a gift, that a parting can deepen the love and that
distance can lead to being together finally.
To you, mistresses of the hidden and happy life, we entrust our discomfort, our fear, our remorse,
our missed appointments with God who always waits for us. Take all this into your prayer and
restore us to joy, to the fragrance of flowers and to days of peace. Amen.
+Arturo Aiello Avellino 13 March 2020 (an Italian Bishop to his nuns)