Mondays with Sister Helen

Sister Helen and I meet once a week, every Monday at 1:30 pm. After we finished the recording process with one another, we continued to meet, both eager to continue a connection we felt was only growing stronger. In those moments, I come as I am. Some weeks I am too sick to meet, and Sister Helen emails me blessings from down the street. Other weeks we sit together for two and a half hours, as I ask for her advice and grace in the midst of my own trials.

I didn’t realize how intimate it was sitting down with a person and asking about their life until Sister Helen started doing so with me. How intimidating it must have felt.

One thing the both of us comment on is how this experience was widely outside of our comfort zones. But upon our initial meeting, both of us knew that this was where we needed to be. For her, it was a bit divine, and for myself, it was a delightful cosmic accident.

This week I came to my sister full of worry. I initially imagined this relationship as one similar to what I have with my grandma, whom I spend a lot of time with and trust immensely. But I am usually the one confiding in her, and my sweet grandma in all her wisdom does her best to offer what she can to me. It was only yesterday that I realized that this relationship had nothing to do with our age or faith. It had everything to do with our friendship. Sister Helen was journeying with me, just as I had journeyed with her in the weeks prior to our interviews.

Whether it is our upbringing, the role faith had in our life, or the way we ourselves learn how to grow, we can empathize with one another. Despite the many differences in our physical appearance, we can agree that we both experience life and express ourselves in ways that can be difficult for many to understand. She encourages me and laughs when she realizes that I have learned life lessons years before she ever did and nods full of affirmation when I share what is on my heart.

For the two of us, this experience has been a lesson in trust. And as we reconvene every week, we come as we are -- laughing, crying or frustrated, ready to share with one another where we are at so we can meet each other there, just as we have done from the start.

About Marissa Ebels

Marissa Ebels is a Junior at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, studying Political Science with a minor in Women's Studies. She was raised in the Southern Baptist and Christian Reformed traditions from birth and is now non-denominational. Working closely within various religious communities, she has become fascinated by the lives of women religious. Marissa is passionate about sexual assault advocacy, interfaith activities, activist work, and Middle East politics. During the Spring of 2018 she was paired with Sister Helen Bueche, OP; a Dominican Sister.