Showing posts from January, 2016

Of Time Made Holy

Some of my current formation reading has taken me deep into the heart of monastic liturgical prayer. I read about the tradition, the evolution, the purpose, and through my reading, I have gained a deeper appreciation for our celebration of the Eucharist and for the Liturgy of the Hours.

I also wrote earlier about my class on the psalms. I just wrapped up that class this past week, and one of my assignments was to embrace my inner David and write a psalm of my own.

At first the task seemed a bit daunting, but the psalms use practically every emotion to convey what we want to say to God.

So, I thought about what I want to say to God and worked from there. What do I most deeply desire God to do for me? What do I want to say? Here is what transpired.

Praise to You, O God, for the love you bestow upon me. Blessed are You, O God, for the blessings you lavish upon me.
Gift for the world – Light in our midst – Song of our hearts – Joy without end – All glory be Yours.
Turn me into a gift for the wor…

Courageous Freedom

Community is wonderful for many reasons. One of the reasons can be explained by a couple of lines from the Prayer of Oscar Romero:

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.

The past few days I have received another gift of community: blog ideas.

My most recent post about homemade toothpaste was prompted by a sister's suggestion. I have another entry formulating in my mind that came about through conversation as well. And, on Sunday, as I was singing a song down the hallway that we sang during Liturgy, someone said to me, "Sounds like a blog post!" It just happens to be that the lyrics to the song are:

We are many parts. We are all one body. And the gifts we have, we are given to share.

Yes, it goes right along with the second reading from Scripture (First Corinthians), which we heard this past Sunday:

Brothers and sisters:
As a body is one though it has many parts,
and all the parts …

Natural Evolution

On any given evening, there are many conversations to encounter in our monastery's dining room. Some are a bit more "standard" than others, but the other night we had an interesting and winding conversation over dinner. Topics ranged from Golden Snow Globe, a website that keeps track of the snowiest cities in the U.S., to natural products. This began when I said, "I just finished using my first container of homemade toothpaste."

Now, I have been joining the all-natural bandwagon in a few areas of my life recently. Toothpaste was an easy next step given the ingredients I already had on hand and how easy it is to make. I just mixed equal parts baking soda and coconut oil; then, I added a few drops of peppermint essential oil, and voilĂ !

Last time I just mixed up the toothpaste in a tupperware container, but this time I got a bit more sophisticated about it. I put the ingredients into a sandwich bag. (This made the mixing process much more fun!) Then, I cut a smal…

Morning, Noon, and Night

Just like other students, I, too, returned to class in the new year.

This time the subject is the Psalms. You see, the Psalms are one of the biggest parts of monastic life. Praying the Liturgy of the Hours is how we pray as a community, which means that over the course of five weeks we pray just about every Psalm together. We pray three times a day, though there are traditionally seven times for prayer in a single day.

In my class, we have talked about the image of the Psalms seeping into our bones, allowing them to slowly become part of us. It is a beautiful image of gradual conversion.

With one hundred fifty psalms from which to choose, it is hard to choose a favorite as I am being exposed to them in a much more intimate way than ever before. I used to have (and still probably do have) a personal fondness for Psalm 27, but the simplicity of 131 speaks to me tonight. Here is Nan Merrill's take:

Most gracious Presence, let me not
          be arrogant,
     nor boast of my virtuous d…

A Matter of Perspective, part deux

At dinner last night, one of our sisters said she wished we could sing Christmas music as long as we get to sing Easter music.
I agree. The music makes me joyful, as it should. It is the season of joy - the joy of knowing that God is here with us.
I recently read a fantastic piece by Sr. Ilia Delio titled Mercy and the Humility of God. In it she writes, "Yet, this is the mystery of Christmas — love bending low, so low as to be humble and hidden in the visible faces of you and me."

This means the way of love is the way of bending low so as to encounter humanity face-to-face, to come into communion with humanity face-to-face - as God did at Christmas.
Now, I have to admit, I am getting a bit worried that you all might be thinking that my blog is simply a way for me to post all the pictures that I take at the lake. Well, the truth is, the lake is such an important part of my spiritual life, a way for me to come into communion. So, I share that here in my writing. And this past…

Weather is NOT a constant

While I slowly learn that change is a slow, gradual process, nature is not aiding in my learning.

Here is the lake on Sunday:

And here is the lake on Tuesday:

Quite the time of year to decide that I want to go for a walk after ministry each day!

Stay safe and warm!

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Constants and Variables

There are some things in my life that I like to stay constant: time for lectio, reading poetry, opportunities for solitude, encountering nature, interaction with kids. They all help me experience God.

And, there are some things that I didn't know I didn't need to be constant: journaling daily minutiae and Internet time.

I recently decided that I would "restructure" my days to give myself more time for those life giving experiences that I mentioned first. That basically means learning to keep my laptop closed. Until I tried this restructuring, I didn't realize how much time I spent clicking from link to link online, engaging my curiosity about trivial things. Do I really need to know the top 50 restaurants in the world? While intriguing, probably not.

It is taking a conscious effort to hold back when I feel the urge to get up from the chair to investigate something about which I am reading, instead staying engaged in what I am doing in the present moment. A very c…

Eucharistic Play

On Monday I returned to my ministry at SBC. After the holidays, people often go on diets or try to eat less, but for me, that will be a challenge of sorts.

You see, just about every day with the kids I receive some sort of plastic meal - spaghetti, bread, pizza, milk - you name it, and it's been offered. And, on top of that, there's always seconds, or thirds, to go around.

Play is the most important part of the day for any young, budding chef...I mean, kid. It's not just chefs - it's construction workers, archeologists, doctors, homemakers, and librarians, but for me, there's something very special going on at the Little Tikes kitchen each day.

During one of our formation classes we joked about people associating Benedictine hospitality with tea and cookies because you knew when you showed up at the door of the convent, they would be offered. I joke that the teachers at SBC practice perennial hospitality as we engage in a steady cycle of feeding kids and subsequent…

Epiphanies and Seagulls

Today we were blessed with a liturgy full of music and life as we celebrate the Epiphany. The second verse of the gathering hymn went like this (from the song, As With Gladness):

As joyful steps they sped
to that lowly manger bed,
there to bend the knee before
one whom heaven and earth adore;
so may we with willing feet
ever seek the mercy seat.

We were also blessed with a homily that reminded us of the way that strangers came together, following a sign, to see the newborn Christ. The final line of homily was: "There is no turning back, only moving forward."

I went for a walk between liturgy and noon dinner. A lot of wind has accompanied the snow we received over the weekend, creating some great waves in our Great Lake. The seagulls were waiting at the shoreline, and as the water got close, they would take off. With the wind blowing against them, they appeared to be floating in place mid-air - a very cool sight to witness, and inadequately captured in the clip that follows. Whethe…