I am not afraid of politics but I am afraid of offending friends. I never want my politics to come between me and people I love, even between me and people I don’t particularly like. I think of my Aunt Rose who, when people around her took to arguing and who turned to her to take sides, would say, “I love allabodies.”
I love allabodies, too. There is not a person on this earth that is not loved by God and it is not my place to make them believe otherwise. At the same time, I think many could clean up their acts, get the rubble out, the anger, the prejudices, the fears, or whatever, and make room for a little kindness. So I pray for the kind of patience others have afforded me over the years.
I was at a retreat recently where the leader asked the participants to name the heroes in their lives. I immediately thought of a nun that mentored me when I attended college in Madison Wisconsin. I was in my early thirties, a drop out after my first run at college. My youngest child was in preschool and for the first time in 15 years, I had a few hours a week I could call my own. This is when Sister Marie Stevens Regis, known by friends as “Stevie”, offered a class for parish lay-leaders (i.e. volunteers) to take take non-credit theology classes. For reasons I cannot explain, she liked me. Stevie loved allabodies but I was shocked when actually accepted an invitation to come to my home for dinner. Stevie inspired me to go to the register at the college to major in theology, which I did. I can truly say that it was her belief in me that prodded me.
Stevie was not afraid of controversial topics. If she was ever afraid of offending friends, she had apparently gotten over it. Her sharing her truth was always laced with respect and well-grounded information. It was hard to get mad at her even if she made you a little uncomfortable. She had a contagious laugh and a sense of humor that was always directed at herself.
I am thankful to have known her. More importantly, I am thankful that she knew me at a time I did not know myself.