|“Reflect and Be Transformed”: This photo is of Tommy Ryan (left) and Kaela Alton (right) during a fall retreat with the Colorado Vincentian Volunteers. This is one of the last photos taken of Kaela before she passed away.|
Few things in nature compare to the company of a winding river. There is a special posture of presence, an invitation to prayer, when one enters a river space. It is the paradox of rushing and calm—a simultaneous acceptance of great mystery paired with rooted contemplation. Every now and then, winter rivers freeze over but still have frigid waters rushing underway, creating a unique sound of frozen knocking. Spring waters take many different forms, and as summer comes, water raises the rivers higher, finds its way to the roots of our plants, is harsh at times and breathes coolness into the dry Colorado heat. It is a lovely experience to witness the movement and change of water. Through these changes I find perpetual invitations to prayer in communion with all beings of transformation.
On October 14, 2015 another gentleness became a part of my prayer and has continued to transform me since. It left a heavy brand on my heart. A simple, four words: all will be well. It was the night of Kaela’s accident. We had gathered for women’s night and quickly moved to hopeful prayer, then panic as we rushed to the hospital after we received word of her accident. Lynne remained calm as she took my car keys, knowing I should not drive us. She handed me her cell phone and said to find the playlist, “Tune Your Heart”. “Play the song, ‘All Will Be Well.’” she said. Her voice filled the car, allowing me to find oxygen through my gasps. All will be well became my prayer as we made our way to the hospital. Tears rolled down my cheeks—water-staining streams of what would soon be unexpected transformation for all of us.
An autumn rain came the day after Kaela died. As Karli wrote in a poem, “Even the skies were crying today—they poured the sadness a human cannot withstand... the sun will return to rain your light upon us... to blanket us with your warmth”.
That water and rain overcame each of us that day and all the days after. It transformed us to know deep wells of our very selves and each other. We sat together a lot in that time—holding each other, crying or trying not to cry or praying and not knowing how. I tried to cling to all will be well, but it was difficult. But somehow, through some prayer, we bend and move like the strong weaving, melting, breaking waters and the sun warms us and all will be well.
The last eight months have been filled with beautiful prayers of the communion of transformation—a communion of CVV staff, alumni, supporters and the incredible volunteers of year 21 . It is my community at EarthLinks, my friends in Denver becoming friends with the CVV community, it is dance, stress, sadness and all the undeniable facets of self that together hold us. It is the water forms we take on and the prayers we pray.
New people and experiences will soon transform us once again. Some of us may move far from Pearl Street, others might stay close. Still, I pray that all will be well. Regardless of the paths we take, may we be united in a prayer of breath—unending gratitude to the unimaginable God whose creativity of peace brought us to communion with one another. And the sun warms us. And all will be well.
To learn more about the Colorado Vincentian Volunteers, please click here.