Friday, October 24, 2008

TV...the new frontier!

Are you interested in the relationship between food and the soul? Do you think cooking is an act of love? Do you think we could all be better stewards of the bounty of the earth? Are the graced moments that happen around a table significant in your life? And, finally, would you watch a cooking show that incorporated Benedictine values into the recipes?

One day I’m going to tape a short segment in our monastery kitchen and attach it to the blog. I think my prioress came up with the name for this fictional program: “Nun Better… with Sister Vicki.” What do you think? Who knows… I think it will be fun to do and if anyone watches it, all the better. I’m clearly into FREE advertising for our way of life. Look for it in December. “Food Network,” look out!

Blessings and love to you all…
- Sister Vicki

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"the Moonpies and the Tang"...

Singer/songwriter, Kate Campbell, performed a benefit concert for the ministries of the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia AND I MISSED IT! Yup. Kate came to our house and spent four days with our community. Her performance Saturday evening (October 11th) was a great success. There are now about 100 new Kate Campbell fans in Northern Virginia. If you hear Kate once, you’re never the same.

Why am I writing about this event several weeks after the fact? Someone who loves me bought me my very own copy of her new CD, “Save the Day.” It was waiting for me on my bed when I arrived back at the convent on Wednesday morning. I put the CD in as soon as I got to the office yesterday and got out the headphones so I could really crank it up (and not cause chaos in the classrooms nearby.)

I fall in love with every album (I still say “album” because I remember records). Each collection is particular – each reflects Kate’s inner life and the things that inspire her on her journey. “I’ve always written stories about people and everyday living,” Kate writes on her website. Maybe this focus on the everyday is what appeals so strongly to a monastic heart. I have used Kate’s music in pastoral settings. As a community we meditated on “In My Mother’s House” during a reconciliation service constructed around the parable of the Prodigal Son. Women in discernment with our community have listened to “The Prayer of Thomas Merton” – a word-for-word setting of Merton’s intimate conversation with GOD. They have been moved by both the timeless words and the beauty of Kate's music.

Most often, I have listened to Kate’s songs alone in the car - she's my traveling companion thanks to my iPod Mini. Some songs make me laugh out loud. "Back to the Moon" suggests that we left the moon "too soon." Musing on a potential journey back, Kate suggests packing "the Moonpies and the Tang." These wonderful references date me, to be sure, and make me smile. Other songs bring refreshing tears. This new collection is already becoming part of me. Favorites? It’s day-2 but I’m pretty sure that “More Than One More Day,” and “Sorrowfree” are engraved on my soul. Ask me next week and there will be others stuck in my bones. These songs are more than music – even more than poetry. They are lectio on life itself. And, if my timing's right, I’ll see Kate on November 6 at “Ashland Tea and Coffee” and thank her in person for the gift of her music in my life and ministry.

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

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