It’s real name is St. Maurus Hall, but for nearly 45 years it’s been called, “the Dorm.” The Dorm is a spaced dedicated to monastic formation. It’s where we live when we begin our journey at Bristow. Many years ago it was an open space with cots surrounded by curtains for privacy. Later, the men who worked with us on the plantation, created eight rooms and a suite for the Novice Mistress. Now, we have eight private rooms for women in discernment or initial formation and a guest suite that is used for special monastic guests.
We have been renovating these rooms over the past few years – two at a time for budget concerns – so that the women who come to live in them will find what they need to try on our life: a bed, desk, comfortable chair, a chest of drawers, a small bookcase and adequate lighting. The new furnishings came from my favorite store, IKEA. I love IKEA because the furniture there is affordable, simple and ready to go. Our pick-up truck can haul two rooms worth of furniture with ease. (I really love driving the pick-up, but that’s another blog!) True, most of the furnishings have to be put together and the directions are not always so clear, but it’s worth the effort to save on delivery time and the charges that go with that service. The men have assembled the furniture for the first six rooms, but the last two were assembled by two women in our “Live-In” Program. They went at those directions and baggies of bolts with good zeal and did a marvelous job. I wish I could show you the Dorm, but it is considered part of our cloister.
Now that all eight rooms are done, Sister Denise and I can take a deep breath and be grateful. The last two had to be finished because two women are beginning the “Live-In” Program – one in November and the other arrives tomorrow!!! Readying the rooms is work, to be sure, but joyful work. Furniture is moved out so the new can come in. Our wonderful staff in Housekeeping strip and wax the floors. Sister Denise hems the curtains and sees to the small details that make such a difference. I get to buy and haul the furniture. (After four trips to IKEA, I know our list by heart!) All of this takes time and energy. The women living in the Dorm get excited as the prospect of new neighbors becomes a reality. For me, it’s all about the tasks until I make the beds. That’s when it usually hits me. As I open the packages of fresh new linens, stretch them out, tuck and fold the corners, and fight with the down comforter as I struggle to get the top edges in the duvet, I remember what this is really all about. We are being visited. CHRIST is coming in the woman who will live in this space. Whether she remains a year or a lifetime, this woman brings us a new version of the "good news." We will be blessed in some way by the gift of her presence. And we will be a blessing to her if we open our hearts to the One who dwells uniquely within her.
I thank GOD for those eight rooms and for all the women who have lived in them and will live in them yet. This is part of the wonder of this ministry – seeing GOD’s love for this community in the faces of women who might one day be my sister.
Blessings and love to you all…
- Sister Vicki