Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word.
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.

The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.

But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.

Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.

by Mary Oliver

Happy Sabbath.
Let us walk in the holy presence.

A Little Manual for Beginners

I have a dear friend who just moved to Erie, and with her she brought a “living artifact” of Benedictine life. It turns out that her grandfather was an oblate of the Benedictines in St. Joseph, MN. She discovered this treasure—with a copyright date from 1948!

How cool is this? Upon finding the Table of Contents...

I turned to the section on humility found in the “Benedictine Way of Life.” Here is the wisdom “of the day”:

St. Benedict could not have arrived at this beautiful thought of ordaining the monk to be, as it were, a courtier of the Great King, if he had not had a profoundly true conception of the relation of the creature to the Creator, of the Christian to Christ; and if he had not been prompted by this conception to make the monk’s life the expression, as perfect as human limitations may allow, of what ought to be the creature’s and the Christian’s attitude and manner of life over against God, so that it might be, in some measure, an expression of the service given Him by thos…

Merton on Monasticism

Wherever you have [...] a small group attempting to do this thing, attempting to love God and serve him and reach union with him, you are bound to have some kind of monasticism. This kind of monasticism cannot be extinguished. It is imperishable. It represents an instinct of the human heart, and it represents a charism given by God to man [...] and because we believe this, we have given ourselves to the kind of life we have adopted.
I finished reading the book, The Life You Save May Be Your Own last week. It traced the intersection of the lives of Dorothy Day, Walker Percy, Flannery O’Connor, and Thomas Merton. This quote from Merton comes right at the end of his life, when we was speaking at the conference in Asia where he died by electrocution.
As I read these words, I stopped once, and again, and then again. I needed to keep re-reading them because they struck me (male language notwithstanding!) so strongly. The monastic life is gift that God continually gives to the world.
Let us …

Benedictine Travels

I had the opportunity to travel to Minnesota on Thursday to attend the American Benedictine Academy (ABA) conference at St. Benedict Monastery in St. Joseph, MN. This community finds its home just a few miles down the road from St. John’s in Collegeville.

The theme of the conference was Artisans of the Monastery, or Chapter 57 of the Rule of Benedict. We heard thoughtful presentations on the creative process, viewed some art from both communities and other Benedictines, sang hymns together written by Benedictines, and enjoyed each other’s company.

I was struck by many moments throughout the time, most especially listening to a monk from St. John’s read his poetry. He first started writing at the age of 75, and he is now in his 90’s! But, what I loved about that particular experience was that Fr. Killian only has use of one eye, so his brother monk gently helped him read the words on the page. It was a true moment of tenderness and mutual love.

We witnessed some incredible needlework o…

Our God is Here

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)

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

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…