Sunday, June 16, 2019

All You Holy Women

“God comes to us as we are and allows our abilities to express Divine Truth.” I heard one of my sisters say this a few weeks ago. An obviously powerful line, it stuck with me.

I heard another one of my sisters say to me the other day, “I feel like admitting that you are a perfectionist is half the battle, like, ‘Hi, I’m Val, and I am a perfectionist.’”

This past week the community has slowed down to take in our annual retreat. As mentioned in my last post, our sister, Joan, directed us through these days. She told stories of sisters about whom she had journaled during her time as prioress, sisters who came in at the top of the list in community rank back in the 80’s. These elder sisters had lots to teach her about the wisdom it takes to live life well, and she used this week to share that wisdom with us. She partnered each highlighted sister with a quality of the spiritual life, reflected on its different facets, and offered questions for our own growth. These conferences were loaded with wonderfully insightful material, even though at times it felt overwhelming—the amount of self-reflection possible with such meaty, developed reflections.

Compassion combined with selfishness; serenity combined with anxiety...and so on...Joan examined both sides of ten qualities. On our desert day, Joan combined vitality with perfectionism.

Oh no.

Just what this perfectionist needed to enter a day of silence and solitude...the aspect of myself that makes the most noise in my head and that tries to partner up with me most often to try and pull me away from my Divine Truth.

I have to admit; it wasn’t easy. Nope.

Because then I had an entire day to reflect on what I heard: “Perfection is bad for you the way smoking is bad for you.” “Perfectionism is an illusion.”

Perfectionism is this vicious cycle for me. The vulnerability that it takes to inch away from perfectionism by admitting your humanity—your incompleteness in order to grow into your true self, that vulnerability is often so difficult to muster up in the first place because of said perfectionism. And I know that I am not the only one with the challenge because I heard and saw others resonating, but perfectionism is often lonely because it’s hard to talk about.

I am so grateful for the retreat that Joan gifted to us; it reminded me of the history behind me, supporting me, upholding me. These women who compose our Benedictine family still offer us gifts, too—they remind me that I am on a journey, not only my own, but communally, too. They remind me to laugh about my daily foibles and general humanity that usually cause me to beat up on myself. They remind me to seek and live from my Divine Truth. They remind me to keep running on the path of love.

All you holy women, come and be with us.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Celebrating the In-Between

Yesterday we celebrated an "in-between" moment of our community history as we marked the 50th anniversary of the Mount, the monas...