Saturday, December 26, 2009

"And the Word became flesh..."

At 11:30 PM on Christmas Eve, the sisters' schola began to sing. Each hymn reflected something of the mystery of GOD becoming flesh in JESUS. The caroling is our last preparation for the birth of our Savior in time. At the stroke of midnight the Chapel bell began to ring. "In the silence of night the Word leaped from heaven (Isaiah)." Then, the Christmas Proclamation was read. The Proclamation is an ancient text that situates the birth of Christ in human history. This year, youngest member in rank was asked to read it - a great honor. Flanked by two candle bearers, Karen stood in the center of the darkness - her face aglow with candlelight. At its conclusion every light in the Chapel is turned on - a symbolic reminder that the Word is light in our darkness. So beautiful!
In keeping with this idea, our dear friends, the Guldens, placed a hunded luminaries up and down our driveway. They burned bright as we tucked ourselves in around 2:30 and were still aglow when I woke at 6:30. Christmas morning came and many friends joined us for the morning Mass. After dinner at noon, most of us went to bed for a bit. I think we're still suffering a liturgical "hangover," but the beauty and joy of these days are so worth it. If you'd like to hear the schola sing, visit me on Facebook [Sister Vicki]. There are several short video clips.
Merry Christmas, dear friends...peace and love!
- Sister Vicki

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The "crank factor"...

It's Christmas Eve. We are nearly ready to greet the Savior. The monastery has been buzzing for the last 24 hours. Somehow, in that time, we manage to decorate the entire house. A few "key players" are at the heart of the beauty in our community room: Sisters Henry Marie, Joan Ann, Mary Patricia. The Chapel is transformed by Sisters Laurence, Patricia Anne, Mary, Postulant Karen and several lay friends who return faithfully each year to climb the ladders and hang the ribbons. Sister Pat is busy with last minute details of Christmas dinner. Sister Cecilia is practicing with Sister Veronica in Chapel. Joanna, who has been living with us since August, is a choir director by training, so this year, the sisters' schola will have a conductor. The best part is that we sing from the heart. When we begin the carols at 11:30 PM, it will be prayer.

So...I'll bet you're wondering about the title of this blog. It actually came from Sister Veronica - used with permission, of course. We were hanging ribbons and greens on the front porch yesterday. I was telling Sister that I had encountered so many grim, frustrated people in town. The line at the local Post Office was positively silent and brooding. People stood with their heavy packages and fumed at the length of the line. Some just drifted off in silent resignation. It made me sad. The parking lots in town were no better. The remnant of the blizzard had covered many parking places and made visibility at corners quite challenging. Again, more "in-a-hurry" people beeped at one another or raced for places to park. Again, more sullen faces on the check-out lines. I wonder how good-hearted people can get so down with Christmas so close? Why do the pressures of the season choke off the possibility of joy? What is it about our preparations for the holiday that bog us down? What could we do differently next year to keep the great gift of Christ's coming in focus? How can we reduce the "crank factor" in ourselves or soothe it in others?

I don't have the answer. All I know is that Christmas comes in the heart and not in a box or an envelope. It will come whether or not we've found the "perfect gift" or not. It is the baby in the stable who is the perfect gift - Emmanuel - God with us. And His peace will be gift enough for all of us.
Blessings and love to you all...

- Sister Vicki

Monday, December 21, 2009

"Ice and snow; bless the Lord."

If you haven't already heard, the Mid-Atlantic states received anywhere from 12-24 inches of snow this weekend. That includes the Commonwealth of VA! It is an extraordinary happening for us...especially, we who live in Richmond. Snow in the south is always a small miracle. It was a beautiful storm. was beautiful AFTER I got out of the car!

I had the misfortune of being out in this blizzard Friday night. The storm began several hours earlier than predicted. I drove right into it going south on 95 at Fredricksburg. The drive from the monastery should have taken 2 hours. It took me 4 1/2! The last three miles of highway looks so deadly, I got off at an exit I didn't know and called the convent for help. [1-(800)-save-my-bacon!] Sister Charlotte knows the city better than anyone I know. She talked me home from Chamberlyne Avenue. When I pulled into the driveway at 9:30 PM, Sister Charlotte was standing in the snow, bundled up and ready to hug me. Sisters Denise and Connie Ruth were up, too. We had a little party to celebrate my survival. It was that bad!

So, today I am still feeling grateful...for having lived in MN where I learned to stay alive in a blizzard, for my Guardian Angel who must never get bored, and for the love of community which sustains me always - especially when I am lost and alone. How good this GOD blessed I am to have all this love in my life.

Blessings and love to you all...

- Sister Vicki