The wind here at the monastery has swirled and whirled with activity of all kinds over these past weeks. Renovation of Ottilia is skidding to a close in a final flurry of punch lists and a last dance of ladders. Boxes are being stacked into ever more teetering heights as…

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Kinfolk

Last night over a simple Labor Day supper, four of us got into a vigorous discussion about a perennial topic among Southerners: genealogy, or as we sometimes simply put it here in the south, our kinfolk. Most Southerners can describe their family tree better than they can describe the magnolia…

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Wonderland

If you can look past the beauty of the monastery grounds, ignore the antique woodwork in Ottilia Hall, turn down the volume on the chanting of Psalms, and take a really good look around, you will see that the monastery is a veritable wonderland of galvanized pipes. They are seemingly…

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Alleluia, in a minor key

This morning, our opening hymn at Lauds began, “Sing alleluia, praise the Lord.” But instead of the usual major key brightness of a hymn of praise, Sr. Magdalena struck an E minor chord. The subdued minor key carried us through the entire hymn. On the surface, there seemed to be…

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A life-sized life

I have come to realize that people sometimes have idealized ideas about monastic life, as if monastics somehow live in some other sphere that exists beyond the aroma of burnt toast and the miscues of crossed signals. But like any life, life here in the monastery has its share of…

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Rubato

In its musical sense, the term tempo rubato means ‘stolen time.’ It is time taken from one measure and given to another, or maybe even lost altogether, under the sensitive lead of the conductor’s baton. Or perhaps the soloist’s expressive voice finds its own melodic phrasing beyond the strictures of…

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“See if you think a 90-year-old could pull that cord and have the blinds go up and down.”That sentence was part of a conversation I overheard between two workmen as I was walking through Ottilia Hall the other day. They were working in what will eventually be the infirmary, and…

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Cloud Tau

People keep asking me if I was on Cloud Nine after the profession ceremony last Saturday. Well, no. Being a grounded, understated sort, I was not on Cloud Nine Saturday, and am not now. Cloud Tau is more like it. That’s the cloud on the grassy path to the creek…

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Profession days

Yesterday was my profession day, the day on which I promised a lifetime of obedience, stability to the community, and fidelity to the monastic way of life. There was a festive Mass, resounding song, and a cloud of witnesses as I made my vows to God.Today, the strains of the…

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The chairs are empty now, silent and still in the early-morning glow of daybreak. Soon, day two of our annual summer community meetings will commence.Our meeting room is filled with ordinary objects, the kinds of things one finds in a conference space these days, and in days gone by –…

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