Sunday, April 6, 2008

1st Sunday in the Monastery...

I am home again at the monastery. I arrived Friday evening from Minneapolis and spent all of Saturday in a community meeting (1st Saturday of every month.) I woke up happy this morning…because it is Sunday…because it is still Easter…because there is no place I’d rather be on the Lord’s Day.

I enjoy the travel and, like the disciples in today's gospel, often find Him on the road. The work at St. John’s went incredibly well. The four of us on the planning team seemed to click. We were able to listen well to each other as the Spirit began to shape our ideas and longings into something tangible. I hope, when this conference actually happens, (in 2009) it will be both inspiring and informative – a source of hope and an opportunity for growth. I think Benedictine Vocation Directors will be intrigued by our theme: “Monasticism as Radical Christianity: Reaching the Serious Seeker” and eager to engage in this conversation. I’m certain that the new guesthouse at St. John’s Abbey will provide the perfect atmosphere for a professional gathering. Set in a hillside on Lake Sagatagan, the new guesthouse is in harmony with its natural surroundings. The interior spaces are simple, functional yet beautiful. Each guestroom has a large window overlooking the lake. There are spaces for meetings, socials and private prayer. It will serve us well for our conference. If you’re interested in touring the new GH at St. John’s, click on this link.

There was great joy for me in this work. It was a new experience to plan a conference. There is still much work to be done, but the important groundwork is laid. I just loved being able to have ideas…lots of them...and share them…watch them bounce around the room like those little “super balls” of my youth...see some take and others bounce right into the lake. Working with my friend, Sister Mary Catherine, was also a new experience. It would seem that love is the best ground on which to build. No skirmishes or serious disagreements – an “F’s” worst fear. (Meier’s-Briggs ENFJ) Brother Paul-Vincent and Brother Daniel are new friends for whom I am most grateful. Between the four of us, we represent three different generations. I learned a great deal from our grouping and look forward to the work ahead of us in the months to come.

After our planning days were over, Sister took two days off. Yup. Two blessed days of doing nothing at a place called Fish Trap Lake. The sisters at St. Ben’s own a house on this lake and it’s just an hour drive from their monastery. Like our “Ridge” house, it provides a space for rest and holy leisure. For this time of rest and refreshment with my friend, I am truly grateful.
So…another trip finished and a suitcase full of dirty clothes to wash…but not today. Today is “Silent Sunday.” On the first Sunday of every month, the monastic community has a day of silent retreat. No phones…pages…TV…or talk. I will post this and head upstairs for a quiet, restful afternoon. Reading, praying, dozing…it’s all holy when we open our hearts to gratitude for the gift of silence and solitude. We will listen for the 4:30 office bell which will call us back to the oratory for Evening Prayer. Sunday dinner will last at least an hour…three courses to enjoy. Sister Lisbeth is making Puerto Rican rice & beans – one of my very favorite dinners! And there will be wine on the Lord’s Day. ALLELUIA! May this afternoon hold its own joys and graces for you…and the Spirit of the risen One who is the source of every good thing in our lives.

Blessings and Easter joy…
- Sister Vicki