Standing on the Shoulders of the Ones Who Came Before Us
On April 25 we gathered in the Loretto Heights cemetery in Denver to celebrate Loretto’s Foundation Day and honor “the ones who came before us.” Attendees included several sisters of Loretto, co-members, St. Mary’s staff, Loretto Heights alumnae, neighbors and Westside Investment Partner, the current property owner.
I read passages from scripture and Cathy Mueller recited “Some Thoughts about Settling: A Prose Poem” written by Cecily Jones in April 2012, our 200th anniversary. Mentioned in Cecily’s poem is our answer from Rev. Charles Nerinckx’s 1824 farewell letter to the Friends of Mary, “If you ask whether I know what will become of you, I answer that I cannot tell.”
From Cecily’s poem, we’ve gathered stories of our becoming. What has become of us? Like “old villagers near their stoves, trading tales, or quilters around their frames, musing with each stitch,” we become.
Mary, Christina, Ann and all the early band on Hardin’s Creek were kin of settlers here, but only kin; they spurned expected roles. No settling in for them. We older ones, like in Cecily’s poem, learn around our stoves or quilting frames! We recall the end-of-year directive, “When you leave for summer school, be sure your trunk is packed.” No settling in.
Contented that the values we have cherished will remain with those who carry on our name, we know this land is not ours. We tend it, tread it lightly, cherishing its every tree and field of flowers and cherish those who rest upon this hill. But we are not settlers here or anywhere.
As our communal response for Foundation Day, we read lyrics from Earth Mama’s song:
We are standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before us.
They are saints and they are humans, ….
They lift us higher than we could ever fly ….
I imagine our world if they hadn’t tried
We wouldn’t be here celebrating today.*
In conclusion we prayed in unison, “O Suffering Jesus! O Sorrowful Mary! We give you glory, thanks, and praise. O bless our works and guide our ways.” We placed flowers on each of the 62 graves and at the foot of the cross.
“Standing on the Shoulders” lyrics and a video are available here.
*STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS: Joyce Johnson Rouse ©1997 Rouse House Music (ASCAP). Used by permission. All rights reserved. As recorded by Earth Mama® on Love Large and HerStory CDs www.EarthMama.org and www.StandingOnTheShoulders.org
Leave a Comment