Glimpses of Eternity (Film) - Letter from Sister Theresa Aletheia Noble, FSP
Glimpses of Eternity
Letter from Sister Theresa Aletheia
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It’s tough to think about death. But you’re probably already thinking about it—whether you realize it or not. Inspired by the tradition of memento mori in the Church, I started thinking about my death over four hundred days ago. At first it made me extremely anxious. Thinking about your body shutting down and your last moments on your deathbed will do that to you. But it did not take me long to realize that I had always been anxious about death. I was just forcing it to the surface.
Grieving another person’s death helps us to enter the reality of death. But our own personal death is different. We can share grief but death cannot be shared, even with our closest loved ones.
The first time I faced the reality of death I was in high school. I planned to become a psychiatrist and I had just realized how many years of school that would require. I began to visualize my future. Most likely, I’d get married. I’d have a career, maybe kids. I would get old, hopefully stay married. Then I’d die. Die. It all seemed so brief, so meaningless. I was an atheist at the time, but I doubt that made much of a difference. Death shakes us to the core and challenges even the deepest faith.
Death continued to haunt me. But I refused to think much about after that moment of sheer terror and despair. Until my close friend died. He had been mountain climbing. We had dated briefly and then had a huge blowout fight. We had not spoken in years. I figured we would reconcile at some point. I was in no hurry. I knew I’d have the chance to apologize for acting like a jerk. Until I didn’t. He fell off a cliff and fell through the air for almost 4,000 feet until he met the ground. Soft white snow was his deathbed.
The specter of death had returned. But this time it wouldn’t go away. I realized that my materialism seemed so naïve in the face of this awesome reality. Was my friend really only a body in the ground? Or was there something more? I wasn’t looking for comfort, I wanted the truth. Was the idea of an afterlife merely an evolutionary coping mechanism or was the fact it a human intuition of reality? I decided to find out, or at least try.
My journey with death has taken me many places. I never thought it would bring me to the convent. I’m not sure why I’m here sometimes. Occasionally, I wonder if it’s all real. But when I think about my death, I know I want to die like my sisters. I want their tentative serenity. Their fragile peace but sure peace. Until then, I plan to continue meditating on death until I see Jesus’ face in it. I hope you’ll join me. Let’s pray for one another.
Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble, fsp
A Few of Our Favorite Moments
from our time with Sr. Theresa Aletheia
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