Friday, February 4, 2011

"All in"...

It’s a poker term. I learned it the other night when my software provider offered a FREE download of a game called, “Texas Hold ‘Em.” Now, I’m not seeking hours of stress relief, just 5 minutes of play between tasks. These “apps” are great in that they teach a complete novice in a few short hands. I’ve learned that three of a kind beats 2 pair. And, there are two kinds of “straights” – five cards in order or five in order of the same suit which constitutes a “flush”. OK…I think I’m getting into it. Will I have to give it up for Lent? I don’t think so. But I have noticed an interesting character trait in myself. When I think I’ve got a really good hand going, I press the button that says, “All in.” That means I invest everything - all my chips - in that hand. I know. It’s a little extreme. If I’m wrong, it’s not pretty. But, when I’m right, it’s very nice. (I have the same feeling when some poor thing on "Jeopardy" gets the “daily double.” I find myself shouting, “Bet it all!”

This new game intrigues me. The learning curve is pretty steep and so much is, literally, the luck of the draw. But that’s what makes it exciting. It’s a bit like our monastic life. New members have a big learning curve. Well, it’s not quite as hard as NASA training, but it does require that one just keeps breathing O2 as one investigates a totally new world. I guess I wouldn’t say that our life has anything to do with "luck," but given the events of the past year, we are all too aware that life happens – the good and the bad – and how we respond to it is the key to our spiritual journey. It’s been six months since the car accident. Sister Charlotte has been at the convent in Richmond since the New Year. Sister Connie Ruth is home at the monastery giving her energy to prayer and P/T. As a community of monastic women, we have never been more aware of God’s abiding love for us and of the power of intercessory prayer. God is so close…and in moments of personal or communal suffering, that presence is intense for those who believe. We are on to some new kind of “normal.” And we know the One who walks with us as we journey forward.

Yes, I’m playing poker on the computer - no cigar, no beer can, no felt under my fingertips. I am surprised by the delight it brings – especially when I have the winning hand. For me choosing to be a Benedictine Sister has made all the difference in my life – it is a winning hand. And there is no other way to live it than to be “all in.”

Blessings and love to you all...

- Sister Vicki

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

One of those moments...

photos: Michelle Sinkhorn, OSB (Ferdinand, IN)

There are moments in life that feel huge – they crystallize even as you are still experiencing them. I had that feeling this past weekend as 100 Benedictine women - under the age of 55 - from across North America and Puerto Rico gathered to celebrate a hopeful future. This assembly was especially significant because we met beyond the boundaries of our federations/congregations – the structures that currently exist to organize our houses. I saw women I haven’t seen since I was a novice and met many I had never met before. New friends - all daughters of Benedict and Scholastica – it doesn’t get any better than that for an extrovert!

What Hilton or Holiday Inn did we co-opt for this nun-fest? Truly, monastic women are happiest at home so we chose to meet in one of two monasteries large enough to accommodate a group of this size – Mount St. Scholastica Monastery, Atchison, KS. We are indebted to the prioress there, Sister Ann Sheperd, OSB and the many sisters who made hospitality seem effortless.

Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation – the special day that Mary and Joseph brought their baby to God in the Temple at Jerusalem. The first male child – consecrated, set apart for God’s service and glory – just happened to be the long-awaited Savior of the world – his very flesh the temple of the Most High God. It was surely an overwhelming moment for his parents, Simeon and Anna – the holy prophets who longed to see his face.

There is another layer to this feast – it is one day in which our Church acknowledges religious women and men everywhere who have consecrated their lives to God’s service. As we celebrated (a little early) with Bishop Di Lorenzo yesterday, I couldn’t help thinking of those 100 women in Kansas. Each sister represents a family that gave a daughter to God through the Order of St. Benedict. Those 100 are just a small segment within the Benedictine household - and a tiny speck in the great gathering of all women religious - so many lives given in true freedom, so many faithful parents willing to give back to God a most precious child. May God bless the women in discernment with our monasteries and give their families the courage to support them in their search for God. Happy feast!

Blessings and love to you all…
- Sister Vicki