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Our God is Here

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The first step of Benedictine humility is to keep the reverence of God always before us.

For our current formation class, we are diving into Torah. This past week we focused on Leviticus, which while challenging because of all the laws, has some definite richness. Our teacher, one of our sisters, talked to us about the belief regarding the tabernacle present to the community. It was right there. And the people believe that it held God. God was right there. Changed the way one followed the laws a bit, no? God is right there.

This got me reflecting pretty quickly. Do I live from my belief that God is right here? Do I live the first step of humility? In the dailinesss/busyness/quickness of life, I probably don’t do it too well. How easy it is to forget that my call as Christian, and even more so, as Benedictine, is to live the truth that, indeed, God is here. It changes everything, as it should. We sing it in one of my favorite songs at Liturgy, too:

Here in this time, here in this place,…

I’m Back (and grateful)

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Yes, I have been gone for awhile. After wrapping up a lovely two weeks participating in the Joan Chittister Institute for Contemporary Spirituality, I headed out of town to help facilitate a retreat and take a bit of R&R time with a friend.

Between great and profound spiritual reflection with the group of young women at the institute, the experience of facilitating a retreat, lots of support from my sisters, and the gift of time with a dear friend, I am full and a bit unable to put into words what the past few weeks have held for me.

But I have been reflecting quite a bit on what it means to be a woman, in all its complexity and fullness—though part of the reflection came from the seeing the wonderful documentary about Mr. Rogers, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

I think the thing that was most beautifully and well conveyed in the film was the ability of Fred Rogers to take the complexity and fullness of humanity and simplify them into daily lessons and the call to love. (I did tell some…

God Moments

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I have been given the gift of participating in the first Joan Chittister Institute for Contemporary Spirituality here at the Mount this past week. (We continue through next week, too.) Seriously, what a gift.

We have eight young women here (and for the most part younger than I, which is another eye-opening experience while living in the world of religious life) and they have such a fire to live their faith. Their passion is enlivening; their wisdom and knowledge are rich; their lives are authentic; their beliefs—holy.

One of the first days we talked about prayer, and Joan commented that she would not ask someone, “Did you pray today?” but rather, “Have you had a God moment today?”

I appreciated that question not only because I have had plenty of God moments surrounded by these women, but because it helps me broaden my perspective on what it means to live a truly prayerful life.

One God moment occurred on Thursday when I had an appointment after lunch. I was also going to the store, an…

Retreating

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We’ve been on retreat this past week with Abbot John Klassen from Collegeville, MN as our presenter. His conferences on the parables and the reign of God have been top-notch, offering some insightful and some uncommon takes on these well-known stories. My favorite conference was on the Prodigal Son. Perhaps because it’s one of my favorites, or perhaps it was because of his reflections, or perhaps it was because of both, I left the chapel “wowed.” I especially liked the reminder about conversion: “Grace is in the small steps.”

Besides his challenging reflections, this week has been one of renewal and refreshment, as it should be. (I must not lie—it’s also afforded me an opportunity to watch some of the World Cup when I otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance!) Yesterday morning I went into my old journals looking for a poem that I thought I would use in this entry, but I came across these appropriate words from an old morning reflection I received in my inbox from the Upper Room back in…

Yes!

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I feel like nearly any Mary Oliver poem could apply to this time of year, when everything is bursting forth.

But, I chose one.

Feast your eyes on early summer. Feast your heart on Mary’s poetry.

A happy mushroom family...

The snake we encountered...

The chipmunk who cannot resist the bird food...

The peonies and daisies brightening my room...

The trees filling in where I rest in my hammock...

The first rose in bloom...

And the first lily...

The fawn living and finding rest on our grounds...

The plant I’ve been reviving who greets the sun with open arms...

May
What lay on the road was no mere handful of snake. It was
the copperhead at last, golden under the street lamp. I hope
to see everything in this world before I die. I knelt on the
road and stared. Its head was wedge-shaped and fell back to
the unexpected slimness of a neck. The body itself was thick,
tense, electric. Clearly this wasn’t black snake looking down
from the limbs of a tree, or green snake, or the garter, whiz-
zing over the r…

Delighting and Drawing

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My current poem of choice is A Brief for the Defense by Jack Gilbert. I first heard (parts of) it in the episode of On Being where Elizabeth Gilbert was the guest.

I looked up the poem in its entirety, and I cannot resist sharing it here.

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils. But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants. Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women at the fountain are laughing together between the suffering they have known and the awfulness in their future, smiling and laughing while sodmebody in the village is very sick. There is laughter every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta, and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation. We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,

Here, There, and Everywhere

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Last year when we had a guest living with us from Australia, she described the spring and summer seasons as a “symphony” because there were different flowers and blossoms playing and popping up all the time—much different than what happens in the Australian climate.
The other morning I read this line from Wislawa Szymborska in a poem:
No day copies yesterday,
no two nights will teach what bliss is
in precisely the same way.

Both of these are reasons why I change my normal routine during the warmer months. One has many options to get from the northeast part of the monastery to the southwest (or vice versa) on the first floor. (Through the chapel, or past the administrative offices, or up the steps and through the “west wing,” or down the steps past the garden room.) For me, though, the only way to travel right now is through our inner courtyard. It provides you about thirty more seconds of sunlight and outdoor time each day, double that if you are returning, too!

When I was walking throu…