April 6, 2020

Suddenly Everything is Different …

from Sister M. Kerstin Ruh

Listening to What God Wants from Us

I am Sister M. Kerstin Ruh and live with eight fellow sisters in Dietershausen, a village near Fulda. I am a youth sister for the MJF here in the diocese and I work with the diocese in its offerings.

Normally I would now have a full schedule with many meetings for younger and older girls, for a school class etc. But suddenly everything is different. Because of the Corona virus the meetings have to be cancelled. Our house had to be closed, because a guest service is not possible at the moment.

What does God want from us now? How can we be there for people now when so much is no longer possible?

Where are we as Sisters of Mary now needed and asked?

What would Our Lady have done in this situation?

These questions have occupied me and my fellow sisters very much, and we have thought together about what we can do. Now we can experience that God himself is filling our schedule again, that he opens doors for us and shows us ways how we can fulfill our mission also and especially now.

A first step that we took was to place an advertisement in our parish bulletin with the notice that we are praying for all the people in the Shrine right now and that people who are in need and need help with shopping or child care are welcome to contact us.

Our neighbor – he himself is not healthy and his mother is 90 years old. I ring the doorbell of his house from time to time. He doesn’t open it because he is afraid of getting infected and he doesn’t go out of the house any more. But we have agreed that if he sees me outside the door, he will open the window on the second floor and then we will chat a bit “at a distance” so that he doesn’t feel so lonely.
I can experience that he is incredibly happy about it, also about the offer to go shopping for him. Suddenly such small gestures, which otherwise seem meaningless to us, have a deeper meaning. These small gestures are what we are left with now and which we try to evaluate:
– Put a bouquet of flowers and a letter on the neighbor’s doorstep,
– Just call someone and see how it goes with them,
– Ring the shrine bell so that the people in the village know that we are praying and are taking them all to the shrine,
– Playing hide-and-seek with our cook’s children when he brings them to work because he has no other option, etc.

And of course the media is also a way of being there for the people at this time: Every week a “surprise email” for our girls and their families with suggestions for common prayer in the family, with handicraft ideas and puzzles to pass the time. There are also Skype conferences in which we read and share texts from Father Kentenich together. We can also organize common prayer times via WhatsApp.

On the weekend we are doing a two-day prayer action here in the village: actually, on Saturday there would be “perpetual prayer” in the parish church, but unfortunately, this has to be cancelled. Now we are making a prayer chain “from living room to living room”: Every family can get in touch with us to find out at what time they meet together in the living room to pray and we hope that we will be able to fill up such a prayer chain around the clock from Saturday to Sunday.

Suddenly everything is different – but many things are awakened by it.

I don’t know if God and the Church have ever been as present on the Internet as they are now … I can feel that people are suddenly more open to God again and that the time in which so much is lost is also a chance to find back to the essential.

Since we live in the middle of the village, we make the experience that not only we can be there for the people, but that they are also there for us, that we get through this time for each other and together:

– Our neighbor’s boy plays the trumpet out the window,

– You see the candles shining in the windows and the rainbows of many children

– and someone calls us and asks if we need help.

The time now is so unpredictable – for us. But God has a plan! He shows us what we can do if we make an effort to listen to him again and again. I wish for all of us that we will succeed in this situation in particular:

To listen to what God wants from us!