Sister Margaret

The little apple on our apple tree

I met Sr. Margaret a number of years ago. I was working at New Skete monastery at the time, so meeting visiting monks and nuns was a fairly common occurence. Sister Margaret’s “profession” was as a spiritual director to individuals in religious life. The day that I met her, I could see that she was ill, seriously ill. Someone had asked me to bring her a glass of water, and as I knocked on the slightly opened door and announced myself, she called me in with a weak smile and thanked me. I asked her if there was anything else that she needed and she said no, the water was perfect, and she asked me to close her door.

Then she called after me, with words that struck me speachless. She said, “Have a wild day!” Nobody, nun or otherwise, had ever said that to me. She didn’t say, “be careful” or “stay safe” or “have a pleasant evening”, nope, it was, “Have a wild day!”.

In that moment, I knew that I was in the presence of someone very unusual. I asked one of the nuns about her, and if she still was giving spiritual direction. She told me that Sr. Margaret was very ill with cancer and not expected to live long, and that she was not taking on any new “directees” because of her limited time. As a matter of fact, she was encouraging those she did work with to find a new spiritual director.

I thought about her so often over the next few weeks, and then she showed up again at the monastery. When she had a few moments, I asked if I could talk to her, and just popped my question/request; Would she meet with me for spiritual direction? She looked straight into my eyes and said “Yes”.

At her funeral, when people were invited to share their memories of Margaret, I told the, “Have a wild day” story. Laughter and nods broke out in the church. I guess this was one of her favorite lines….to me, her words were an “invitation” to a bigger life.  I met with her only twice before she died, but they were power-packed sessions, life changing hours .

I was, and still am, so grateful that I dared to ask for what my heart wanted….the day that I met Sister Margaret was indeed a wild day.

“One hour of life, crowded to the full with glorious action, and filled with noble risks, is worth whole years of those mean observances of paltry decorum.” Sir Walter Scott

28 thoughts on “Sister Margaret”

  1. Oh I just love this story! I just sent my daughters notes, wishing them each a “Wild day!”. It gets to the real essence of life and living, I think. It feels so good to say it, and it felt wonderful to hear it in your story, Mary. Thank you! Have a wild day!

  2. Thanks for sharing this story! And thanks to Mandy, who inspired me to send 2 postcards this morning to two friends who live far away to wish them wild days!

  3. This reminds me of an 80+ yr. old woman I loved waiting on when I worked at the bank. She had a wonderful sense of humor, hair always “done,” and dressed neatly. One day I said, “So Irene, are you behaving today?” She looked at me and said, “I can’t have any fun if I always behave.”

    I love those words too. And I now i will certainly remember to have a wild day!

  4. I copied this quote. It may actually help with the never ending grief. My son did enjoy many ‘wild days’. He did live his life to the fullest. Still………
    Thanks Mary

  5. A wild day is just what I need right about now…..although my definition of ‘wild’ is really pretty ‘mild.’ Love this story. Will take this saying as my own. Thanks, Mary.

  6. The synchronicity never ceases to amaze me: “have a wild day” made me break into laughter because….

    Sshhhhhh….
    Today I am sixty
    but don’t tell a soul.
    For when I was fifty
    that sounded so old.

    They warned that at forty
    life was over for sure.
    So youthful and giddy,
    thirty was gone in a blur.

    When I turned twenty
    I had not a clue.
    A visionary at ten—ha!
    I knew just what I’d do.

    So now I am sixty
    and see what its brung.
    I’d never have believed
    it could feel so darn young!
    c.b.

    1. Happy Birthday Cheryl! Makes two of us born in 1951! Or maybe more out there? A visionary at ten! Isn’t it true, we were all so smart as youngin’s and didn’t even know it! Loved your poem!

    2. Happy Birthday Cheryl! Doesn’t it feel young?! I just turned 60 in June so along with you and Susan I was born in ’51 as well! Neat poem…thanks!

    3. Happy Birthday Cheryl and thank you for letting us all know so we can celebrate with you in our minds! I love the poem too. Love, Mary

    4. Happy Birthday, Cheryl! Let me tell you from my perspective…..you’re still a baby! I turned 69 this month and I STILL feel like I’m going to a Beatles concert next week. It’s all in the way you are inside. Enjoy your day.

  7. Now this is a real fun blog. One thinks at first it is going to be very straight and grim. Then, all of a sudden, it bursts forth with joy and laughter.

    It made me think about the dictionary meanings for wild so here you have Merriam-Webster:

    1. Living in a state of nature
    2. Desolate
    3. Uncontrolled
    4. Unruly
    5. Stormy
    6. Sensational

    Exs.
    1. Now, let’s picture ourselves running around in the nude.
    2. How about hermit living?
    3. The just got out of bed hairdo.
    4. A love affair gone bad.
    5. The way you want to look.

    Take it from there and everybody have a wild day on Rev. Mary!

  8. Can’t think of who sang it, but can’t you hear this:

    Wild Thing! You make my heart sing!
    You make Everything GROOOOVY!

    Get your wild thing on today girls!

  9. Well a very happy and wild 60th birthday to you Cheryl, loved your poem, you have such a talent for the written word. Mary Lou, your comment made me laugh out loud. I am picturing all of us ladies running wild in nature in the buff! Mary, thank you for sharing this story. I think Sister Margaret would have liked our little community.

  10. Thank you, everyone, for all the kind wishes. I just had air force fighter jets scrambled low over my neighborhood and I thought it was a ‘wild’ way to celebrate my birthday! (But it actually was someone breaching the air space as the president’s visiting about an hour north of here.)

  11. My favorite Helen Keller quote was mentioned here a while back — “Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all.” Sounds like we have a wild group here, look out world, here we come!

  12. I think running around in the buff will scare my neighbors and disgust my cats…….but hey I’m willing to live wild!! WoooHooo!

  13. Sister Margaret sounds like a rare find… lucky for you Mary
    and now for us…your feathered flock …all this wild talk reminds
    me of the amazing book mentioned a few weeks back-

    Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild
    Woman Archetype by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés…

    … love that song “Wild Thing”…

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