Monday, October 29, 2007

What is it you seek?

I seek to listen.

I seek to know myself, others, and God-with-us more fully, and to recognize ever more the divine at the center of all, calling us toward love.

I seek to be grounded in a place, and from that foundation allow my heart to be opened to the world.

I seek to live a life rooted in the wisdom of our Christian tradition, and to live more fully into the Benedictine monastic way of life as this community expresses it day by day.

These are the hopes and longings I shared with the monastic community during the ritual of formal acceptance into the postulancy. Several times each year, the entire community gathers for “Chapter,” a day-long meeting to come together around what we as a community need to discuss, discern, flesh out—community finances, visioning for the future, recognition of achievements, updating on and recapping of events, voting on certain issues, etc., etc.

During morning prayer, our prioress asked Karen and I, “What is it you seek?” We each looked out into the assembled community and shared our responses. We were then given copies of the books the community uses when we pray the Liturgy of the Hours, as a symbol of this step further into the community. Of course, we’ve been praying with the community these two months, but this was the first time that the community has been assembled to confirm our acceptance into this next phase, and it somehow feels more substantive now that we’ve had time to work through the craziness of the initial settling-in process.

As I was preparing the statement above, I realized that I also hope for some magic from a framework, some effortless shaping toward sanctity and serenity. But inherent in this frame is the daily work of being present and allowing myself to be molded, day after day after day after day. It is the accumulation of micro-movements that, over time, shift us toward our center, toward the God we long for. It’s fidelity to things that seem insignificant on their own.

(“Since I’m on such a roll, I’m going to keep working instead of going to noon prayer." “I’ll just skip my reading time this one day because I have so much else to do.” “I don’t have the energy to engage with Sister X, so I’ll go around the long way to avoid her.” “I can keep going without a rest, even though that means my presence in the community will only be bodily.”)

Certainly, life happens, but in the long run, I hope I remember and trust that the daily stuff I do—or don’t do—really does add up. I may want to be as rounded and balanced and whole as some of the older sisters, but I can’t just jump straight there. They’ve filled their baskets with the delicate flakes of that “magic” faithfully over years of conversation at table, struggle in their assigned work, presence to guests, sharing their resources, calling on each other’s gifts, making time to foster their relationship with God, processing and confronting the stuff of life in between. I have my basket. Have I added to it today?


Anonymous said...

i love the way you express your thoughts and concerns. You have the ability to make me look into my daily life and see how I can be better. I'm sure I'm a lot closer in age to the older nuns who's basket you think are full, but I'm sure they are just like the rest of us and sometimes trip and spill the contents. It truly is a life long journey of trying to do what is right and keeping our baskets full with good deeds God Bless you on your journey...

Jorge Sanchez said...

Although you've only started in your time at the St. Ben's, you're a true Benedictine!

Another wonderful, edifying reflection

Dolores said...

Dear Steph,
What a beautiful message you wrote on 10/27. It gave me goosebumps. You have grown so very very much since I first met you. Now I better get to evening prayer!!!! Just trying to fill up that basket. Much love,


Anonymous said...

I miss you...would love to read some of your thoughts on your first Advent and Christmas in the monastery. And just how you are doing, you are in my prayers.

john hanson said...

when you get around to it
you should let me know
when i should come and visit
so i can do a rough analysis
on your spiritual growth
i hope there's a littel darkness in there