I am working from the convent in Richmond today. We returned here, yesterday afternoon, from a wonderful weekend at the monastery. Friday, I met with two of the women in our “Live-In” Program. We had a Chapter Meeting on Saturday. That’s when the whole community gathers for official business. Then, in the evening, many of us attended the LHS Gala – a major fundraiser for our elementary school. Sunday – my favorite day to be home – we prayed Morning Prayer, celebrated the Eucharist and ate a big, Southern brunch. I met with another woman in our LIP after the meal. Then, it was time to bag my bag of tricks and head to Warrenton where I visited St. John the Evangelist Church. I’ve been teaching one CCD class on “vocations” each year for the past four or five, I think. One of our oblates, Debby Fancher, Obl. SB, is the instructor (as well as the liturgist/music minister for the parish.) After class…I headed south once more.
I really do love this ministry. I love the teaching, the weekend programs, the outreach in schools. Most of all I love the one-on-one time I have with women in discernment. I said to one of them this weekend that I often feel like an air traffic controller. (My brother, Andrew, is a pilot so I often think about things aeronautical.)
Women who are in discernment with us, at various levels, “circle the runway” for various periods of time before they “come in for a landing” and enter the monastery. Some come in fast and hot like the NASA shuttle. For them, things seem to fall into place more quickly than you’d expect. These women have a certainty of purpose, a real clarity about GOD’s will for them. Some women remind me of gliders who soar quietly and descend slowly, gently, gracefully. They are content to allow things to move forward naturally. They trust the persistent whisper and the loving nudge of the Spirit. They are happy to let the plan slowly unfold. Some women hit bad weather. Strong winds and major “turbulence” slow their “approach.” Often, their flight plan has some glitches – things that need to be taken care, or circumstances beyond their control that test patience and the veracity of their call. The ones that send me reeling are the Stealth® planes – people who come in under my radar and totally surprise me with their interest in monastic life. All of a sudden they descend through the clouds, needing little help with their landing gear. They’ve been doing much of the “checklist” on their own.
Unlike real Flight Traffic Controllers, I can make a mistake, without dire consequences. Women in discernment tend to be very forgiving as we are in a mutual process of discovery – moving within the mystery of God’s desires. But, when they "touch down" safely and begin their life with us, the joy of this ministry really kicks in. We have three planes in the hanger now. (I guess that could be a metaphor for Initial Formation.) Several are circling above us. Only GOD knows if and when they will land. But, I trust in the Spirit who is, literally, the wind beneath their wings.
Blessings and love to you all...
- Sister Vicki