Transformed from Brokenness

Sister Lucy Bethel is a member of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul. An eighth-generation Bahamian, she held various positions in banking in the Bahamas before entering religious life. Later, she served as director of a center providing full-time care for mentally challenged adult women. Currently, as director of Providence Spirituality Centre, she is a full-time spiritual/retreat director in Kingston, Ontario.

In her poem “Invitation,” Mary Oliver writes: “It is a serious thing just to be alive on this fresh morning in the broken world.” This captures for me the awareness with which I wake up each morning.

“Brokenness,” though just one aspect of the human condition, is all around us and in the daily news of our world: violence perpetuated by human beings, natural disasters in light of severe climate changes, abuse in its many forms. At times, it is frightening, and I am not always quick to welcome it into my own life, nor do I look forward to witnessing it in the lives of others, through my ministry, my community, the church and the world at large. We do not need to search for it: Brokenness will find us.

How do I deal with personal brokenness?

Recently, I read a phrase in a piece by Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr that caught my attention: “Transformed people transform people.” This statement confirms for me what I have come to know about the people who mentor me through difficult times and experiences of personal brokenness. They are wounded healers in every sense. They exude the compassionate presence of our God of Providence. I draw on the love and strength of such people who have the capacity to mirror goodness in me. I search for “at least one true mirror that reveals my inner, deepest, and, yes, divine image,” as Fr. Richard Rohr says in Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life.

I dare say that some of the happiest, healthiest, most vibrant, resilient and life-giving people I have come to know in my congregation, among my colleagues/peers, and in my ministry are those who — through no choice of their own — have faced, entered and accepted experiences of personal brokenness. Through these experiences, they have become a Compassionate Providence Presence for others, instruments of peace in a broken world. Then, handheld out, they offer peace, the peace Jesus offers: “Peace I leave with you” (John 14:27).

In my life, and in particular my life as a religious sister, God blesses me with mentors — women, men, and often children — who guide me through difficult times and experiences. Through osmosis, my experiences of their healing presence help me grow and become a life-giving presence for others.

“Transformed people transform people.”

We’re delighted to bring you this blog from the monthly feature “The Life” courtesy of our friends at Global Sisters Report. This month “The Life” panelists were invited to share their own personal experiences of hurt and suggest strategies for dealing with brokenness. Click HERE to read more blogs from The Life, GSR’s monthly feature about the unique, challenging, and very specific lives of women religious around the world.