I am the second to arrive
for our meeting.
Peg is fiddling with the apparatus needed
to bring Angie, Eileen and Rozanne, each neatly boxed,
onto a TV screen.
Peg and I go way back.
I go way back with almost everyone
who enters the room.
I go way back with the scowling picture
of Mother Francis which hangs on the wall.
Everyone here knows why she scowls.
When she was on her deathbed,
her Sisters suddenly remembered
that they didn’t have a picture of their foundress.
A photographer was summoned,
and Mother Francis was hastily dressed
and dropped into a chair.
The meeting begins,
and I am going way back,
let’s say, way back to the summer of 1965.
Peg sits beside me in her crisp white veil.
To my left, Ritamarie has a little black postulant veil
perched cutely on her dark curls.
I look around the table.
In 1965 we are
three black veils,
three preps in brown jumpers and white blouses,
one young wife,
one thirteen year old
and one eleven year old.
And here we are, facing extinction.
Our beautiful home is facing extinction.
All our good works are facing extinction.
Mother Francis scowls.
In April our facilitator, Ted Dunn, said
we have a ten-year window in which
to figure our what to do.
The calendar is ticking.
As of this meeting,
we have nine years, ten months and twenty-nine days.
Mother Francis rolls her eyes.
The Sisters of St. Francis don’t have to become extinct.
The future doesn’t have to be a scary, hungry, big black hole.
We have dreamed a lot of possibilities.
I listen excitedly as people read their reports,
but Mother Francis stifles a yawn.
Why does this humongous responsibility
have to fall on this generation?
Look around this table of 1965’s adolescent nuns.
We’re just kids!
Mother Francis winks.
Solarius saw a call to protect.
When your girlfriend says, “Let’s go downstairs
with this poor girl. Dani needs back-up.
You and your brother can just stand out in the hall.”
Dani saw that she was losing Tim,
the man she’d recently wrapped her life around.
She couldn’t stay on as roommate and watch
when he brought home another girl.
Not without a fight.
So she went upstairs and said, “I’m scared.
I need help so I can go in there and get my clothes.”
Tim saw intruders, attackers,
like black shadows in doorways in Baghdad.
Baghdad had taught him the importance of vigilance
and of always having a gun nearby.
This situation seemed to need a gun,
and five warning shots
ricocheting in a narrow hallway.
The brothers ran, both hit.
Solarius slumped on the front lawn.
His big brother, nursing a wounded arm,
knelt on the grass and
watched him die.
Solarius saw Jesus.