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 we pack and prepare to move out of our temporary quarters and back into Ottilia. Guests upon guests continue their steady flow through our Retreat Center doors. Sister Michelle Renee has stepped into her new status of Novice and been clad in her new name and new white cuculla. Sister Margaret Mary has been to China and back. Sisters Tonette and Mary and Lynn Marie have each traveled to conferences this week. Family members have visited. Our Oblates joined us for a weekend of fellowship and retreat talks. And on and on… All the while, our usual rhythm of work and prayer, ora et labora, has kept us firmly anchored in our monastic routines of liturgy and community life.
Like the rest of us, I have been swept into the swirling activity like an autumn leaf in a whirl of wind. But despite the external activity, there is a stillness in the center of my being. It is steady, like a heartbeat. It is still, like breathless wonder. It is the place where I dwell in quiet communion with Christ, with Love who drew me here.
For those with a monastic vocation, there are many elements of monastic life that may initially draw one into the monastery, just as a leaf is drawn into the wind by something outside itself. Perhaps it is liturgical prayer, or the ideal of community living, or perhaps the community members themselves, or the balance that is characteristic of monastic life… There are many monastic practices and ideals that may attract one to this way of life. But as important as it is to have a basic compatibility with and attraction to monastic practices in order to live this life joyfully, the inner core of monastic life is a relationship of love with the One who called us to seek Him through this way of life. Without this deep center, the external rhythms and practices of monasticism have no real meaning.
Monks can get busy just like anyone else. Sometimes too busy. And these recent weeks here at Sacred Heart have certainly been filled with more than our usual activity. But within the swirl of activity is a core of stillness where I am at rest with the One who drew me to this life. And while I can’t speak for any other Sister, I feel sure something similar is the case for each, although they might use different words to describe it. But for me, it is Christ who drew me here, and Christ who keeps me still with breathless wonder – even as ladders and boxes and guests swirl around me like leaves on a gust of autumn wind.
Postscript: Here’s the latest on our community news – including photos of Sister Michelle Renee’s entrance into the Novitiate and Sister Margaret Mary’s mission trip to China – and of course the construction updates!