by Louise Sandberg
Another year of IVC comes to a pause. It is never an end. Some of us will take time off from our service positions. Others of us will work through the summer, without our monthly gatherings.
Before the May meeting I received a call from Bette, my first IVC volunteer. She wanted to meet with me for a Spiritual Direction session. We happened to be having our IVC meeting that day, so I invited her. Bette’s husband is dying so she had stepped down officially from her service a few years ago, although when she has time she still comes by and the women always ask for her.
Today Bette joins Love & Lunch, our bilingual version. Women from El Salvador, Mexico, Ecuador, Jamaica, and US gather and share our lives, and then share a meal. Break bread. Unnamed Eucharist. Holy Communion.
One of the women is preparing for her daughter’s first Holy Communion. I remember when she came pregnant to her first meeting. We gave her a baby shower. That was 9 years ago. With no family here except a brother, I became the Godmother. Now the mother and her daughter want me to be part of the Communion. I am touched and make sure I understand. They want me to be in the family picture, so I am to come at 8:30 AM Saturday. I have no children, so I am deeply honored. So loving.
On our way to the IVC meeting, I fill her in quickly and briefly on our readings for the day. What struck me was the discernment and trust emphasized in our Ignatian approach to life.
The group welcomes Bette. There is another new member as well. We all mention how long we have been in IVC and our ministries. Jack remembers Bette from her first go round.
I am touched by the humility and the focus on service, on those being served. I am humbled by those who minimize what they are doing when I admire the gift of time and energy, hope and love they give so freely. I agree with the acknowledgement that what we started out giving as gift has become more gift for us than we could ever get. We have compassion for those our age who are not able or willing to give and are missing this incredible way of growing even in our golden years.
We end with mass, watching Jesus once again be unbloodily sacrificed, broken and shared. Isn’t that what we do in our service? And then go forth?
The day feels like the perfect combination of loving service, spiritual nourishment, friendship and physical nourishment. There is a holiness to the day.
Saturday comes and I am greeted at the Communion with enthusiasm, hugs and much love. I sense that I am more their family than I know. I smile for the pictures with true joy, no need to fake happiness today.
My God daughter tells me of her love for Jesus and her joy in receiving him. I tell her of my own first Holy Communion. I was sure the bread went into my heart, not into my stomach as ordinary food does.
We go to lunch after mass and my God daughter, Millie, makes some puns and jokes with me. I tell her a few jokes myself. I love puns and jokes, and I feel God is showing me this is the daughter I am being given as fulfillment of the promise, from Mark 10:29-30. Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.”
Louise M. Sandberg is a IVC Spiritual Reflector and Volunteer, as Director of the Mary & Elizabeth Center which reaches out to women in need on Long Island, NY. She is a pediatric home care nurse and facilitates Wildflower groups for women healing from childhood abuse, praying for healing of feelings and memories.