Your word is a lamp for my feet, so prayed the Psalmist who sought to know and follow God’s will, within the specificities of his time and place. This spiritual practice, for centuries internalized by others, has opened onto ultimate joy, but not without sacrifice.

This prayer first became mine during formation as a novice in 1958, easily practiced among others brimming with youth and enthusiasm. Then, the will of God was spelled out in the Order of Day posted outside the office of the Mistress of Novices. Over time, I learned to hear God’s will sounded by the clapper of the hand bell marshaling everyone to the next activity. Only thundering footsteps along terrazzo corridors marred the silence, observed by everyone. Somehow, it worked very well, within the quiet of our hearts.

Despite leaving the convent years later, I still carry this imprinting; it serves me well, especially with the eruption of new limits impinging upon my former independence. No longer do I go outside. No longer do I prepare my own food. No longer do I scrub my back. No longer do I speak for long intervals without oxygen. No longer can I spend long hours at my word processor. And so many more No longer cans … At times, these bristle with wintershock.

Were it not for my compassionate family, friends, and spirited caregivers I would have lost track of the light’s lamp and fallen off the path. This work is too onerous to attempt alone.

So with the Psalmist, I renew the prayer, Your word is a lamp for my feet, and surrender to the Unknown, awaiting all of us, on the other side of time.