“We Learn By Going Where We Have To Go” – Wisdom Companion #6

Hello everyone, this is the latest news and wisdom from Sr Rita. You will find the five previous “Wisdom Companion” pieces from Sr. Rita by searching this site.

“We learn by going where we have to go.” — The Waking, Theodore Roethke

First, thank you for the prayers, love, light, and healing energy you have sent me. I find myself supported in body, mind, and spirit as I make this journey with cancer.

The latest news is neither the best nor the worst, but it is sobering. The first course of treatment has ceased to be effective.  The liver tumors are growing.

The next step happens on February 28, when I will have a port implanted. Sometime during the week of March 6, I will begin the chemo drug Taxol.  One day a week for three weeks, I will spend about 7 hours receiving it intravenously. Then I get a week off. It is more potent and has the best chance of arresting the unruly growths. I will be monitored closely throughout this period while this drug is working.  After two full cycles, sometime in early May, they will do another CAT scan to see how this drug is working.  So, like Roethke, “I learn by going where I have to go.”

We Catholics are at the beginning of Lent, our version of AA’s steps 4-9. It is a season for getting honest, a “fearless moral inventory” time, writing it out, reading it aloud to someone who will receive it, taking ownership of places that need attention, being willing to allow a higher (or deeper) power to accomplish that and then doing the footwork to repair whatever relationships with self, God or others near repairing.

It is a season of surrender: of surrendering illusions that either aggrandize or demonize who we are, illusions that can prop up an inflated self-image or mire us in self-deprecating hopelessness. Those who have made this journey and continue to practice awareness, reflection, and “seeking conscious contact” with their Deeper Power discover liberation, and each day make a new beginning.

It is interesting that the new cancer treatment is administered by “infusion,” a measured dose through a small opening.  It is a wonderful metaphor for what is called grace. I must be willing to open just a little to life on life’s terms to receive healing, which is sometimes is accompanied by necessary discomfort.

The Lenten Journey reminds me that death is inevitable, and life is indomitable, not either/or but both /and.

“Sacred Journey” by Christine Patterson

On a closing note, I hope all my posts speak to those who recoil from anything overtly tied to the Christian religion because of its history of inflicting trauma and justifying oppression and abuse. As the daughter of a survivor of clergy sexual abuse and a survivor myself, I get it. At the same time, I acknowledge that in the sacred humanity of Jesus, in his great-hearted, inclusive love and fierce integrity, I continue to find the image of who I am called to be and how I am to make the journey that is mine.

I may not be Catholic; I am not even be Christian (but then again, I might). These labels don’t matter, really. What I know is that I find wisdom and inspiration in Sr Rita’s writing. She is the embodiment of what it means to be held in grace, no matter where you are, no matter what you’re going through. I hope you also find something useful here in her words.


  1. Anne Moore on February 27, 2023 at 3:05 pm

    Dear Sr. Rita, this is simply beautiful. I am so moved by how you spin your suffering into gold to share with us all; I found so much to take into my heart and mind in this post, to immediately straighten out my twisty path and show me where the light is today….please keep on writing! As for Christianity, I do love Jesus with all my heart, but I just don’t find a path to true Being (probably your ‘deeper Power’) in how religion is practiced in any earthly church (I tried) and I do find it elsewhere, certainly in Jesus’ truths along with Eastern teachings and wisdom like yours. Thank you too for tuning me in to the greater meaning of Lent – I certainly see no separation between what you say and what Buddhism says, in its essence. It is good to hear the same truth from other perspectives, all great reminders. So, I light a candle in my heart for you and your healing, and I am sure there are candles burning with light for you in all the other hearts that I am sure you have touched and nudged towards awakening with your words. Bless you!

Leave a Comment