Sunday, September 10, 2017

One Year Later

It seems like many of the quotes and poems I have been reading lately are quintessential summaries of my novitiate experience.

“When God comes into our midst, it is to upset the status quo.” (
Kathleen Norris)

Today officially marks one year of God upsetting my status quo. The novitiate has been a time to reflect on some of my patterns, both those that are healthy and those that need some developing (if you will), as I grow in this monastic life. God has certainly swooped in in new ways calling me to a fuller way of being. Though it is often hard to point out growth in the day-to-day, I do trust that I have gentled a bit and learned a lot over the course of this graced year. Here's a poem by Kay Ryan called New Rooms.

The mind must
set itself up
wherever it goes
and it would be
most convenient
to impose its
old rooms—just
tack them up
like an interior
tent. Oh but
the new holes
aren’t where
the windows
went.

As I re-enter "the normal routine" in the upcoming weeks, I will try on this new view that has been building inside me, hoping not to return to those old spaces. I will try to stay attuned to the deep gratitude I have for life and for the beauty that surrounds me, both in nature and in other human beings. Our dear Mary Oliver speaks of this, and I would be remiss if I didn't include a poem of hers as I end an important stage of my life. Long Afternoon At the Edge of Little Sister Pond:

As for life,
I’m humbled,
I’m without words
sufficient to say

how it has been hard as flint,
and soft as a spring pond,
both of these
and over and over,

and long pale afternoons besides,
and so many mysteries
beautiful as eggs in a nest,
still unhatched

though warm and watched over
by something I have never seen –
a tree angel, perhaps,
or a ghost of holiness.

Every day I walk out into the world
to be dazzled, then to be reflective.
It suffices, it is all comfort –
along with human love,

dog love, water love, little-serpent love,
sunburst love, or love for that smallest of birds
flying among the scarlet flowers.
There is hardly time to think about

stopping, and lying down at last
to the long afterlife, to the tenderness
yet to come, when
time will brim over the singular pond, and become forever,

and we will pretend to melt away into the leaves.
As for death,
I can’t wait to be the hummingbird,
can you?


Hummingbirds have been a symbolic animal for me since I entered community, so it was fitting that the image at the top of worship aid for Liturgy this morning was two hummingbirds drinking sweet nectar. What a beautiful day! What a beautiful year! Praise God!

I will be back after I return from some time away visiting family and friends.

Until then...

Let us walk in the holy presence.


(from fineartamerica.com)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

O Happy Labor

We used our extended weekend to take a bike ride out to Findley Lake. Elevation gain you might ask? Over 1300 feet! Needless to say, the ride home was much more pleasant.

Here are some snapshots from the journey.

starting out 

gaining momentum

 a rather deceptive gradual, gravel-filled incline that paid off with a lovely lake view

joy after fixing my broken chain...thanks to the able mechanics!

destination: half way: Findley Lake 

nourishing ourselves with nature's bounty on the return trip 

fin.

May all be blessed with work that brings dignity to the human soul.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Psalmody

O Love, my Beloved,
How powerful is your Name
          in all the earth!
You, whose glory is sung in heaven
     by the angels and saints,
Who with the innocence and
          spontaneity of a child,
Confound those who are mighty
          and proud,
You comfort the unloving and fearful.

When I look up at the heavens,
     at the work of Love's creation,
     at the infinite variety of your Plan,
What is woman that You rejoice in her,
And man that You do delight in him?
     You have made us in your image,
     You fill us with your Love;
You have made us co-creators of
          the earth!
     guardians of the planet!
     to care for all your creatures,
     to tend the land, the sea,
          and the air we breathe;
     all that You have made,
          You have placed in our hands.

O Love, my Beloved,
How powerful is your Name
          in all the earth!

Most of the time I know what I am going to say here a day or two before it's time to write. Today, I had no clue. All day I sort of waited for the lightbulb to go off. I figured I would find a line from a psalm at evening praise and use that, but when we began with Psalm 8 tonight (Nan Merrill's version is above), something else happened. Someone was walking to her prayer seat, and while we were reciting, she was reciting the lines from memory as she walked. How beautiful? One of my favorite things about the monastic life, one so deeply entwined with the psalms, is that this holy poetry becomes a part of us. This moment tonight reminded me of something I just read from Kathleen Norris (Amazing Grace, again):

It interests me to find so little God-talk in monasteries. This sometimes disappoints the more pious (or romantic) candidates who assume that monks spend all their time discussing visions and are shocked to find them evaluating the World Series instead. I suspect that the ample spiritual wisdom to be found in monastic communities comes not from pious chatter but the discipline of the psalmody. Immersing people so completely in poems that speak vividly of the human in relation to the holy seems to serve as a corrective to religious code language.

It is only a month until the baseball playoff season begins, right?! (I know Notre Dame won their opener yesterday! GO IRISH!)

Let us walk in the holy presence.