So many things have been happening in these past few weeks that have captured my attention and been swirling around in my mind. Our election results were finally in, almost all of them, and Joe Biden was declared the President-Elect. The current President has not yet conceded even though there seems no clear path to his staying on in the White House. Results have been questioned but no evidence of fraud has been found. Now there are lawsuits that will drag on in the courts for awhile.
It really is beyond my understanding how we got to this place in our nation with a president that still cannot accept defeat and continues to cry foul while even some people in his own party concede it is time to move on. It seems like we all really need a healthy dose of reality and decency, and to start working together for peace, compassion, and unity.
Coinciding with political news is the rapid increase of Covid cases in our country with more and more people dying. Hospitals are filling up again, and our healthcare workers are exhausted! We’ve heard it said that masks, social distancing, and frequent hand washing helps and yet, beyond my understanding, people refuse to do these things. I do not understand those “edges.”
Just when things seemed to be overwhelming came an invitation. On a beautiful Fall Sunday afternoon a week or so ago I was invited by a friend to watch the movie “Fatima” on DVD. I had wanted to see the movie when I first heard about it, but it was not playing in a theater near me, if in fact any of the theaters were even open due to Covid. So it was a real treat to be able to view it together and talk about it afterward.
For those who may not know about the miracle of Fatima it is the story of three Portuguese children from the town of Fatima in the year 1917 who were visited by the Virgin Mary. She asked them to pray, to dedicate themselves to the rosary, and to pray for peace so that the war in Europe would come to an end. Lucia and her two cousins, Jacinta and Francisco told their parents about the vision but were not believed. Lucia’s mother, in particular, was convinced her daughter was lying as were the mayor, the priest and some of the local village inhabitants.
This apparition caused enormous upheaval in the lives of these three children, their parents, and the whole town, as pilgrims who heard about the vision began to come and seek healing. The mayor padlocks the church and holds the children for interrogation. The Catholic Church hierarchy gets involved as well and they all try to get the children to change their story—to no avail. The Virgin Mary’s message was clear—pray the rosary for an end to this terrible war.
One of the lines in the movie really struck me and it was: “Faith begins at the edges of understanding.” I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since hearing it. It is said by Lucia, many years later, as she is a Carmelite nun who, in 1989 gives an interview to a skeptic who challenges her with questions and interrogates her testimony. The exchange between this writer and Sister Lucia leaves one thinking about the philosophical and theological questions posed. The movie itself evokes an experience of faith that there is a larger entity trying to communicate beyond the physical world and calls us to an experience of the transcendent. The writer tells Sr. Lucia that “not everything unexplainable is necessarily transcendent.” That is when she responds “Faith begins at the edges of understanding.”
There are many “edges” in our world right now, Covid, politics, systemic racism, white privilege, climate change just to name a few. But I am hopeful in hearing President-Elect Biden’s closing words in his speech to the country after he reached more than enough electoral votes to win.
He quoted the refrain to the song: On Eagles Wings. “And He (God) will raise you up on eagles’ wings, bear you on the breath of dawn, make you to shine like the sun, and hold you in the palm of His hand.” Our nation needs healing from all its divisions, and still and always, we are held in the palm of God’s hand. That is our belief as Providence women and men.
Mystery, holiness, hope and faith are all things that call us beyond ourselves to a greater good.
May those gifts guide us with grace to a place of oneness and wholeness—where sharp edges disappear—and love is the ethic of our society.
I encourage you to see the movie and let it speak to you.
Barbara McMullen, CDP