Coolock Window Pane

April 30, 2021

By Sister Brenda Peddigrew

When Catherine noticed the crossed window pane
of her Coolock bedroom, no doubt staring out one long night,
lost in the meaning of her life – she saw, as though a portal opening to God,
what needed doing, what she longed to do
for the poor, the sick and the victimized women of her world.

She opened that door for thousands
calling us, through that window’s portal, to surrender to her vision
of allowing God to use our hands and feet, our eyes and hearts and souls,
to bring into being a new way of transforming the world.

The world? One person, one straggling group, one
long-lived institution in the world, which is, after all, a hologram:
change one small thing and the whole world changes.

With Catherine standing vigil in my praying heart,
I found my ministry of transformation.

Within and without,
while keeping my collaborating eyes
fixed on her crossed pane in the Coolock window,
I accompany people and groups
who long to bring into being
what cannot yet be seen,
who accept that transformation is God’s work,
not ours alone or even primarily,
and who are willing
to step out of the familiar, out of comfort,
out of security
into the dark unknown
with only God’s light.

Catherine knew she didn’t want her women
to live like all the other orders of her time.
She knew that something else was being born in her
and she trusted, through all her anxiety, she trusted –
without seeing much beyond one moment at a time.
She didn’t play the double-think games or take part
in the power-struggles of her time. Instead,
she acted on the elemental truth she saw
in the crossed pane of her Coolock window
or while sitting beneath the walnut tree
in the Coolock garden.

The ministry of transformation involves
much “tripping about” as Catherine experienced,
and – like her – I try to keep my heart
“always in the same place” as she so lightly said:
“centred in God, for whom alone
we go forth or stay back.”

Forms change, as Catherine saw. With or without us,
and even with our most careful planning, they change,
or – as Rumi said – “the lamps are all different
but the Light is the same.”
My ministry is to midwife transformation
to point out the Light
that might be lost in holding on to old forms
and to dance – as Catherine did –
with delight in the new.

Brenda Peddigrew, RSM (NL)
(while staring out Catherine’s Coolock window, July 2015)

Read more Mercy poets here: Poetry and Mercy

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  1. Caritas Martinez, RSM

    Brenda thanks. Praise God for your inspiring poetry “Coolock Window Pane” and sharing it. There are so many “Coolock Window Panes” in daily lives. May God give us courage to take up the strands to make them a tapestry of continuous beauty to praise God.

  2. Connie Stelzer

    How beautiful!! What a way to start my morning in the stillness of the sunrise. Catherine’s light started the transformation in so many , including me. I love and grateful to be a part of this story, to be able to serve and make a difference. To show our Lord’s mercy and Light…one person at a time

  3. Patricia Cook, rsm

    Thank you and thank you again, dear Mercy poet Brenda. Your crafting of imagery delights me in this early morn.
    Different lamps, we surely are!
    Same Light……. 🙏 Amen

  4. Sr Marie Noel Keller, RSM

    How timely! Perhaps the whole point of this last year is to see anew, renew our commitments, and dance together as Catherine did to help bring on the new!

  5. sandy prucha

    Brenda, thank you for this powerful vision of the true ministry of transformation – from the heart of Catherine and her crossed Coolock window pane…. Such the heart of Mercy!

  6. Natalie Rossi

    Beautiful Thanks A poem to pray with

  7. Victoria Incrivaglia RSM

    How providential to reflect on these words of change and transformation as we enter into this Journey of Oneness. This Journey begun by Catherine goes beyond all boundaries. I find this poem, as well as all your published books of poetry, to be moving and challenging. Thank you.

  8. Margaret McBride, RSM

    Brenda, thank you for this beautiful reflection for all of us to ponder. It’s such a timely reflection with all the changes we are experiencing on all levels. Thank you for sharing this powerful poem with us.

  9. Rachelle Harper

    So so beautiful! Thank you, Brenda, for putting words to a deep truth. I will keep this near-by!!!!

  10. Carolyn McWatters

    Brenda, this is quite beautiful, and something I needed to hear today. Thank you so much.

  11. Sister Angela Fellin

    A beautiful reflection and reminder of who we are, Thank you.

  12. Ann Crouse, RSM

    Brenda, thank you for sharing one of your many beautiful poems. This is so meaningful for us as we move forward on our Journey of Oneness. The Spirit is truly alive and well. Blessings!

  13. Katherine Rappl

    So perfect for this time in our life in Mercy. Thanks

  14. Elizabeth Mary Burns

    Thank you, Brenda, for your poetic reflection on the Coolock window pane. It is a call to reflect again on our call to be Mercy.