Wednesday, October 22, 2008

NOT the norm...

I've been out of reach for two days - off writing a retreat at our house in the Blue Ridge Mountains. No phone calls, e-mail or Internet there. The good news is, GOD blessed that effort to focus and I've come back to Richmond with most of the retreat program "in the can."

My monastic life is not the “norm.” I’m on the road a good deal of the time both for vocation ministry and community responsibilities. I travel to exotic places like Louisville, KY, Collegeville, MN and Fort Smith, AR for meetings. I say “yes” to anything and everything if it means an opportunity to talk to people about our way of life: high schools, spirituality groups in local parishes, CCD classes, RCIA cohorts in both dioceses, retreat days through our own Pastoral Center and for our Oblates. And, I am currently “on mission.” I live at our convent in Richmond with Sisters Andrea and Charlotte. So, on top of my regular state of “busy”, I find myself moving between two offices. The time I do spend at the monastery is often filled with things that have to be done there. I don’t often get to just “be” at home.

The truth is most monastic lives are much more “stable” than my own. This reality has challenged me to view our promise of stability in a new light. Are we simply promised to a place? A certain patch of Virginia clay that we’ve loved and protected for 140 years? Is it the monastery we live in? A cinder block construction that stands on the site of the original house? Or is it the people? The 32 women who have promised to love and guide me and the ones who haven’t arrived yet? If a natural disaster struck Bristow, VA (GOD forbid!) and all that we knew on those 120 acres was taken from us, how would our promise of stability shake out in the dust? Yes, I love the land and Chapel where all my promises have been made. More than these, though, I love the community who has shown me the face of Love. I love the women I call my “sisters” and I’m ready to love the ones I’ve never met. The promise of stability calls me to an identity. It doesn’t matter where I go or what I do. What matters is that I remember who I am – a Benedictine Sister of Virginia. My monastic heart is grounded in the precious relationships I have with my sisters – living and in glory. My life is part of something so much bigger than a house or a piece of land. It is grounded in Christ who dwells richly among us in Word and Rule. My monastic life looks a bit different right now, but my heart is where it’s always been – with my sisters. And I have become increasingly “at home” with this version of my monastic life. The trick is trying to be exactly where I am on any given day and never forgetting that wherever I go, my community goes with me. And, if I ever forget who I am and what I’ve promised to become, I know my sisters will call me back to my better self. The promise goes both ways and maybe that fact is the source of peace I feel in my heart today.

Blessings and love to you all...
- Sister Vicki