Sunday, August 7, 2011

What I learned from "Real Time"...

We’ve had two wonderful women with us this week for our “Real Time” in the Monastery program. We’ve never done this before so I’ve been looking for its worth and graces. Typically, interested women come for a weekend of discernment or a vocation retreat during the sacred seasons. This has been most fruitful. Yet, women often express the desire to spend more time with us – real time, ordinary day-in-day-out time. We have a "Live-In" Program to meet that need, but that’s long term. Women in our Live-In Program are usually in for a year of discernment. So, finally, after seven years of vocation ministry, I’m trying something new. As usual, there are things to tweak and improve but overall, I am pleased to have this kind of time with women who are eager to pray and to work. That’s basically what they’ve been doing this week – ora et labora – pray and work.

Two of our monastery gardens needed serious watering. Our first arrival taught me much about how living things. Did you know a flower can be beautifully in bloom, yet its roots dry and longing for water? I had no clue but I guess people are that way too. Any one of us can look A-OK on the surface and deep inside there is a dryness – a spiritual or emotional longing that needs attention. All the more reason to give one another some room to be less than we wish them to be. We never know what another person is carrying inside. I also learned that “puzzle people” abound – and not just in monasteries! And working a puzzle with someone can be an opportunity for building relationship – elbow to elbow, searching for the last piece of a blue sky.

Even what might have been disappointing became a blessing. Our “luau” at the pool turned into an indoor event due to thunderstorms. It was the best “pool party” we’ve had in seven years! We skipped the swimming and went right to the dancing. After a few tropical tunes we switched to Big Band and dancing classics for the benefit of the elders who came to join the fun. Every one was welcomed with lei and invited into the circle of fun. The Vocation TEAM outdid themselves on the decorations. When we were worn out, we moved on to popcorn and a movie. Great fun…special for us as well as our guests. As we blessed our friends this morning, I wasn’t so much thinking about the party – as fun as it was. I was thinking how much I’ll miss them in the oratory and in the dish room. [We spent a lot of time there!] I guess that’s another plus for the “real time” program. Retreat days have their highs and Benedictines are ALWAYS looking for a party. Yet, it is the “normal” routine of prayer and work that steadies our feet on the path to God. In the Chapel, in the garden, in the library or the dishroom - time spent in prayer and work sanctifies us gently over a lifetime. Real time is holy in the monastery. Maybe, that's once of the reasons I came and, more importantly, of the reason why I stay.

Blessings and love to you all…
- Sister Vicki