Friday, September 26, 2008

"To everything, turn, turn, turn..."

If you are middle-aged (somewhere between 40 and 70,) then the excerpt from Ecclesiastes, in the Lectionary this morning, probably started the juke-box in your mind. The Byrds version of this scripture passage belongs, now, to several generations and takes us all back to some place or time when the power of those words changed us. “To everything (turn, turn, turn,) there is a season (turn, turn, turn,) and a time to every purpose under heaven.” Once a song starts playing in my head, I’ve found there is only one way to make it stop. I need to let it play through to the end. Then, with the last note, I can bid it goodbye for the day. It works for me. Give it a try when you feel possessed by a favorite tune.
Although this passage is very familiar to me, the end of today’s First Reading was not. It was a very short verse at the end, that I’ve never really heard before, that grabbed my attention this morning.

“[GOD] has made everything appropriate to its time,
and has put the timeless into their hearts…”
(Eccl. 3:11)

I am in awe of this GOD who created time for our blessing and, at the same time, wired us for eternity. When the seasons of human life shift with birth, death, love and longing, it is wise to remember this verse. In time, we know joy and pain, laughter and suffering. But, we know at our deepest core, that our true home is in GOD’s timeless heart. In prayer, can we enter that time beyond time – the perfection of the present moment in which we simply are before our GOD. May your prayer be blessed with such a stillness and your days, weeks, and years be marked by the gratitude with which you accept all time as gift.

Blessings and love to you all…faithful friends!

- Sister Vicki

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Time for some "good zeal"...

The people of Haiti, Cuba and Texas continue to recover from the devastating effects of “Ike”. The American financial system seems on the brink of disaster. And, presidential politics has raised our national blood pressure and sparked graceless disputes among family members and neighbors alike. In times like these people of faith are more important than ever. We are, if we’re willing, icons of hope.

How can we share our faith in these troubled times? Well, for starters, we can do something for the victims of the hurricane – here and on the islands. As a monastic community we make many contributions each year that are mutually agreed upon and reflect our Benedictine values. “Catholic Relief Services” is among those organizations. A contribution to CRS will reach those who need it most outside our borders. To help those in Texas, the domestic branch if this organization is called, “Catholic Charities.”

Although my Dear Old Dad is a CFA – certified financial analyst – I know less than nothing about the workings of Wall Street. I can, however, pray for those who represent me as they struggle to do the right thing. My anger and frustration will get me nowhere. Prayer will change me and, perhaps, change the hearts of those who have been greedy or less than honorable in their financial dealings. Prayer is not the "last resort." It is the best thing we can do for one another – the most powerful sharing of our loving energy, of all that makes us like GOD.

Presidential politics? Well, we can start by being respectful of one another as Election Day draws near. We can have conversations instead of screaming matches. We can allow one another to make a different choice and not try to bludgeon each other into submission. The basic fact is that we all love America and want what is best for her people and the world in which we live. If we, in our heightened state of political fervor, can be civil and gracious to one another, what lovely example we could give our children. Freedom requires participation and prayerful reflection as we use the voice we have been given. May each one of us, as followers of Christ, be the first to show respect to the other (RB 72:4). And maybe, heart by heart, we will change the world with our hope - the hope that is our birthright by baptism and a gift that must be shared.

Blessings and love to you all…

- Sister Vicki

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

RB 36 falls within a section of The Rule that concerns itself with meals [RB 35-42]. Though the chapter deals primarily with the relationship between the sick one and the server, Benedict sets the tone of this very practical instruction with the first two verses: Care of the sick must rank above and before all else, so that they may truly be served as Christ, for he said: ‘I was sick and you visited me (Matt. 25:36),’ and, ‘What you did for one of these least sisters you did for me (Matt. 25:40).’ As with his emphasis on “good zeal” in our dealings with one another and the primacy of hospitality to strangers, Saint Benedict clearly understands that the sick one is a unique incarnation of the Christ. (See, I really did go to my classes in Rome!)

When I visit our Infirmary at the monastery, it’s easy to find Christ in my sisters. Though their days of active service have come to an end, they have become the spiritual power-house of the community. They give me good example in the way they accept the many sufferings of aging and gratefully receive the kindnesses of the staff and sisters who care for them. Anyone who works in healthcare or hospice can tell you more than I about the presence of Christ among the sick and dying. It is real presence in the most sacramental sense of the word.

Since most blogs are “all about me,” I’ll tell you where these musings are coming from. I took a “sick day” yesterday. I can hardly believe it myself, but it’s true. I was all dressed and ready to go to work. I joined my sisters for Morning Prayer and even croaked out the canticle. But, Sister Andrea took one look at me and suggested that I needed to go to bed and just be sick. What a concept - actually skip work for a day and do NOTHING! I’m pretty good when it comes to taking care of others, but Benedict would give me a big, fat “F” for being the one served in sickness.

One of the many gifts of community, for me, is the mirror I never had before. Yes, Sister Andrea could see that I looked like a piece of bruised fruit, but, more importantly, she could see my inner self. She knows I love work and have a super-sized notion of responsibility. She knows I am less able to give myself permission to stop and be the unproductive member of the household. Her loving glance and wise words enabled me to have a “Mary day” – to be still at the Lord’s feet and know His rest. The Rule is an ancient document but alive and well in our lives. For its common-sense, gospel-girded, “people-come-first” attitude, I am truly grateful.

Blessings and love to you all…

- Sister Vicki

Monday, September 22, 2008

I'm back...

...and I'm sick. Yup. I've managed to cook up a lovely little sinus infection. (I'm not contagious - just pathetic.) I did, however, manage to be faithful to my commitments this weekend. I spent Sunday at our annual "Family Picnic" at the monastery. Each year the sisters invite their family/friends to share a meal with us on the patio. Our families bring salads and wonderful desserts. We provide hot dogs and hamburgers, tea and lemonade. (GOD bless Greg Evans, Obl. SB, who grilled three cases of meat in the late summer sun!) We ate every morsel. And, I got to "table-hop." Three of the women in our Live-In Program invited family to the picnic. I was able to spend spend some time with each family over the course of several hours.

This morning, despite feeling like Peter's mother-in-law, I made it to the Church of the Epiphany for a short talk on the Beattitudes. The WINGS program is active in several parishes in our diocese. It's a faith-sharing community of women within the larger church. They meet once a week for prayer, some imput and some heart-to-heart conversation. I was overwhelmed by the number of participants this morning and delighted in the din of their laughter and conversation beforehand. Their kind attention was a blessing for me. I am certain that these women know the LORD. I know "holy" when I see it. I am grateful to the WINGS women. I may be a bit under the weather and croaking light a toad, but thanks to them, my soul feels like singing!

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