By Sister Carolyn Schilling, ASC

When letting go big-time as an adult challenges my faith, I often turn to the Portuguese proverb, “God writes straight with crooked lines.”

Somehow, the words give me comfort and courage. However, I find myself letting out a deep sigh and exclaiming: “Okay, God, there you go again writing straight with crooked lines!”

The year 2014 was one of stark contrasts: I marked my 50th Anniversary as a vowed Adorer of the Blood of Christ, and lost half of my family.

That June, I renewed vows at Mass in the Ruma Chapel, and enjoyed a meal and reception with Sisters, well-wishers and friends. I worked that summer, went on retreat and vacationed in northern California. It was glorious.

On Nov. 1, my mother’s only brother, my Uncle John Engel, whom I had visited months earlier, died in McLeansboro, Illinois. I was honored to give the homily at his funeral Mass.

Then, two weeks later, on Nov. 14, my brother, Roger Schilling, died in the Veterans’ Hospital in St. Louis at age 66. He was the brother with whom I got to grow up and share a childhood.

With those deaths, that year’s Thanksgiving sure had a different feel.

Then, only days before Christmas, on Dec. 22, my father, Vince Schilling, died at age 90 while in hospice care in the home of my sister, Janet.

Her phone call was to the point: “Dad’s gone, Carolyn.”

My sister and I buried our brother, then our dad before the New Year. The events were painfully close to each other.

There was the proverb again: “God writes straight with crooked lines.”

So what can I share about death and letting go? It was a steep fall to go from the “mountain top experience” of Jubilee to the burial of half of my family.

 

  • Grief is nature’s way of healing our hearts. There’s no simple way to find hope and purpose in loss. We each grieve and mourn in our own way, and in our own time.

  • Remember that tears are liquid gold of the heart as Sister Meg Kopish, ASC, used to say.

  • If God gives us a mountain to climb, we will get the grace to climb it.

  • Each day, God gives the manna we need to live one day at a time.

  • It helps to pray the Lord’s Prayer daily, especially the part, “give us this day our daily bread.”