Yesterday, trusses went up on the new kitchen and Retreat Center dining room. It brought to mind the image of an old-fashioned barn-raising, the kind where neighbors come from miles around to raise walls and put on a roof, all in one long day. Everybody comes – the men, the women, the children, the babes in arms – and everybody has a job to do. The men lift planks and logs ever higher, the women stir simmering pots of gracious knows what all, and even the young ones pitch in to keep the cookfire stoked, the plates washed, and the buckets filled with water from the spring. It is indeed a community affair.
Our project involves technology and materials far more specialized than a barn raising of olden days. Even so, it is a community affair as gift by gift from neighbor after neighbor keeps the walls going up brick by brick. It is our neighbors and friends – both near and far – who are helping raise these walls and lift the roof into place.
Meanwhile, we Sisters keep stirring the pot of God’s gracious love – welcoming guests (37 this weekend, with more arriving tomorrow), celebrating daily Eucharistic, praying the Liturgy of the Hours, living our monastic witness, interceding for the needs of the world…serving God and serving our neighbor even as the construction goes on around us.
Partnering with our friends and neighbors lends strenth to the entire project. An image from a beautiful fictional account of a 19th century house raising describes such strength: “… notches [in] each log [were] made to fit into the side of another log, heart to heart, bracing one another in steadfast fealty, making a wall to turn aside the wind in its blowing, to beat the rain back against itself…” (from Lamb in His Bosom, by Caroline Miller). Bonds with others strengthen us as we seek to be united with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, rooted in the heart of the Church, and connected to our neighbors, especially the poor.
Eventually, construction will cease and the workmen will depart other work. But we will still be here because our renovation is a community affair not just in the ‘how,’ but in the ‘why.’ We are renewing our century-old home and making ready our retreat facilities so that we can continue our monastic witness for generations to come, serving God and serving our neighbor from the eternal abundance of God’s gracious love, united with Him in steadfast fealty.