Monday, April 26, 2010

Retreat - Quality Time With Jesus

Each sister in our monastery makes a week- long retreat once a year.  This retreat gives each of us the opportunity to reflect on our lives with the One who is the center of our lives, Jesus Christ.  Last week I was blessed to be able to go on retreat.  I got to go to a retreat center in Kentucky and spend time in a hermitage.  I was especially blessed to be able to go on retreat during the spring.  Creation was fully alive with trees and flowers blooming everywhere.  
 It was a great gift to spend the week in silence taking time for reading, prayer and reflection.  This quality time with Jesus helped me to reflect on my life and to grow deeper in my relationship with him.  I also took time to reflect on the areas of my life I need to celebrate and those I need to work on.  Spending time with Jesus helped me take a long and loving look at my life.  I am thankful for the time I to retreat, to step back and take a closer look at my life with Jesus.  It gives me hope and renewed energy as I engage daily life again.  

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Goose and God's Love

Each year a goose and gander come to our monastery for their yearly visit.  We have affectionately named them Gladys and Cyril.  Each year Gladys lays her eggs in a flower box close to the front door of our monastery.  Initially they would hiss at us as we passed by.  It seems that for now there is a truce between us because as we pass by they look at us intensely but don't seem as aggressive anymore.

I never thought that a goose had much to teach me but then I met Gladys.  She has taught me so much about God's love.  You see Gladys shows a motherly love.  She sits on her eggs   She covers them with down from her own body so they they have a warm place to grow.  She never ventures far from her little  ones and when she does, Cyril is close by watching to see if any danger is present.  A couple of weeks ago we had a storm with heavy rain, wind and thunder.  I thought for sure that Gladys would have run for cover.  And yet, when I looked out the window, there she was sitting with her little  ones.  Her head was tucked down against the wind but she stayed there keeping her eggs warm.  By providing this warm and safe place her little ones will keep growing until in a week or two they will be ready to hatch.  And, when they hatch, she will teach them to walk and then fly so that they can make it to water and begin the journey to maturity.

God has nurtured and loved me in this way as well.  God never leaves me even in the midst of the storms of my life.  God is always close loving me with a motherly love.  Even when I struggle and feel alone, God is always close by calling me home to the warmth of love.  I am so thankful for this God who provides me with all I need to grow into the person I am called to be.  May I learn to share this same love with others.  Always being there for them so that they might grow into who they are called to be.

When the goslings hatch in a couple of weeks, I hope to be able to get some pictures to share with you.  It will be a big event for us because we've grown rather fond of Gladys and Cyril.  And, of course, the gift of life is ALWAYS something to be excited about!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Rooted in Love

This Spring I have found a new favorite plant. I have been told that it is called a bleeding heart, but I am attracted to it because it is a beautiful image of what I have learned about the Benedictine way of life. Benedictine life is a life that is focused on seeking God. The roots of our life is our prayer life both personal and communal in which together we seek to grow in our love for God, one another, and all those we come in contact with. Our life of prayer and community living fills us up and enables us to live out our values of work and hospitality.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to see this lived out . I spent a few days shadowing some of our sister in their ministries. It was during those days that I was able to see clearly that by rooting ourselves in prayer and community life the love that we receive overflows into the work that we do. I spent time that week with Sr. Pam, Sr. Anna Marie, and Sr. Becky. Each of these women, have uniquely different ministries, but each of them serve out of our Benedictine values. Sr. Pam’s ministry involves helping families with children who are having problems in school. She works with each family to provide support and resources so that each child can succeed. During our time together we visited homes providing support to the parents and visited the children at school to see how they were doing. Sr. Anna Marie is responsible for Hispanic ministries at a local parish. She spends her time teaching classes, making home visits, and running a clothing pantry. I was able to help her prepare for her first communion class, work in the clothing pantry, and make some home visits with her. Sr. Becky works at a clinic in Terre Haute that serves individuals who do not have health insurance. The clinic Sr. Becky works at provides comprehensive services that include education for chronic diseases, mental health care, primary care, eye, and dental care. I went on a tour of this amazing clinic and then I assisted in the pharmacy.

Each of these experiences taught me a great deal more about what it means to be a Benedictine monastic woman. I learned that being rooted in a life of prayer and supported by a loving community provides the foundation to service our neighbors in God’s love. Although each ministry I visited was different, I was able to see my sisters living out their passions and our values in their daily ministries. This time that I spent sharing in my sisters ministries has made me grateful for my time in formation. It is a time when I am able to root myself in monastic life, learn about our values, live communal life, and grow in love. Once my roots have been firmly established I know that like my sisters I will be able to serve with my heart overflowing with love and in gratitude for my monastic community.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Easter Grace

I love the daily readings during the season of Easter.  There is so much to reflect on as I read about Jesus and the disciples.  Jesus appears to the disciples and it takes them a while to recognize him.  In my own life, I am aware that I do not always recognize Christ when he appears in my own life.  It often takes me a while to get the message of his coming.  Just as Jesus patiently works with the disciples until they recognize him, Jesus works patiently with me.  Eventually I am able to see and I am changed by his coming. 

The fifty days of Easter are such a gift of grace to us all.  During these days, let us open our eyes to Christ's coming and may we share his presence with others.