Since the summer of 2004, I've been listening more intently to what has been a recurring "call" to monastic life. At the end of August 2007, I plan to begin living full-time at St. Benedict's Monastery in St. Joseph, Minnesota. Currently I am an Affiliate of the community, which means that I'm in a time of more intentional relationship and continuing to get to know the community, but I maintain my job and home, etc. When I arrive this fall, I will be a Postulant, and live and pray, work and play with the Sisters of this Benedictine monastic community as they and I continue to discern whether this is a lifegiving match for all concerned. (See the vocations page for more info on the stages of joining the community.)
When it seemed pretty clear that I would be going to the monastery to live the rhythm on a daily basis and really find out if this lifestyle is as good of a match for me as I think and hope and pray it is, I called my parents to share an idea. I've wanted to do a pilgrimage by bike for a couple of years now, and one day while sitting in the space where the Sisters come together three times each day to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, it dawned on me that my pilgrimage would be to St. Ben's. I would bike from my childhood home to my new home.
Though my family is supportive of this move in my life, my dad was anything but enthusiasitc about his daughter riding her bike solo on the highways of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota. But soon enough he said, "Maybe your mom could go with you." She's an avid biker--has been longer than I have--but she really needed to think about this crazy idea of biking 650 miles across windy and largely treeless terrain in the heat of August. Several weeks later, she sounded more confident that this is something she could try, and would be willing to train for. Especially if Dad would catch up with us in a car on the second week of our journey. Once the plans started to roll, my younger sister wanted to be in on it too. And now plans have evolved such that Dad will be with us the whole time, pulling a camper behind the pickup--which eliminates some of the need to plan our daily distance based on which little towns along our route have a place for us to sleep. He'll also be our main cook and general support crew. (Pray for him as he puts up with three exhausted women on a daily basis!) My brother will stay home to work and take care of the family dog.
Us three girls have been training for months now, and have done some decent practice runs (including a day for my mom and sister on the plains of eastern Montana when the temperature ranged from 67 degrees at their 6:00 a.m. departure to 97 when Dad picked them up at 10:30--and maxed out at 113 that afternoon!). And I biked from the Twin Cities (my current home) to St. Ben's--an equally important branch of the journey as I prepare to move to my new home with the fullness of all that I am, including not only parts of me from my childhood, but also from the nine years during and since college that I've lived mostly in Minnesota and presently in Minneapolis.
Blogging is something new to me, so please bear with me, and be patient with our possible lack of internet availability at some points on the journey. I'm also still trying to reconcile how this technological aspect may influence the spirit of pilgrimage. It will be important to reflect upon as well as document this journey, but this is a different medium than I was expecting to incorporate until very recently.
As I post this first entry, I am also sorting and boxing my post-garage sale possessions according to their destinations: St. Ben's, Mom & Pop's Free Storage, and various friends. I head for Montana in a U-Haul on August 4, and the four of us start heading East on Highway 12 on August 11. Look for one or two more entries before we begin pedaling in earnest.