Good Zeal

Beyond the image (broken into wholeness)

During these days of packing and moving, my life has felt like a cubist painting, full of odd angles and overlapping blocks of color and disjointed joints that somehow manage to form a coherent whole. One minute I am hanging shower curtains with Sr. Ursula and then I am hauling boxes with Sr. Michelle and then helping Sr. Emilie pack and then helping Sr. Margaret Mary unpack and then climbing ladders to dust upper cabinets and then ironing sacristy linens and then serving breakfast to a retreat group and on and on and on. These seemingly random blocks of activity with varying combinations of Sisters make the day resemble something only Picasso could concoct. But then again, maybe it’s more like the pointillism of Seurat or Pissarro with innumerable, individual dots of color coalescing to somehow form a recognizable, coherent image.

As I sat in prayer this morning, breathing the deep silence that lies within and beyond activity and form, I realized that these days are neither cubist nor pointillist nor any other description of color and image. Rather, the various fragments of my day are like bread that is broken, wine that is poured, my life fractured into innumerable, individual acts of work and prayer that are somehow gathered into a single image: a Benedictine Sister seeking to serve God and her community with a full and grateful heart.

In one sense, my labor and activity, my stillness and rest, are an experience and expression of brokenness. Yet the fragments lead me to the fullness and wholeness of life in Christ as my fractured, fragmented life is gathered up as an offering to Him who was broken for us. My work thus becomes for me a kind of icon, an image that leads me beyond the image itself to the One who dwells not in color or form, but in inexpressible light, “the image of the invisible God.” (Col. 1:15)

Postscript: These days have indeed been very busy. Far too busy for a monastic. But this is a unique and pivotal time in our community’s history and we are “all hands on deck” as we help each other through the hard work of transition. Besides, it is such an exciting time for us that I wouldn’t want to miss any opportunity to pitch in!  Sr. Michelle just stopped by the office and we talked about what a good day it has been. We both spent much of the day assisting our Sisters who live in the infirmary as they transitioned to their new rooms. They are now settled in and enjoying their first night back in Ottilia Hall.

We now have ten Sisters who have made the move – three yesterday and seven more today. Photos can be seen on our Community News page.

The photos at top are from the central stairwell between first and second floor, looking up toward second and third floors. The pressed tin ceilling around the light fixture is original to the building, as are the banisters, balusters, and newel posts. The top baluster rail has been reworked and refitted to its original state.  The bottom photo is the wonderful and welcome sight of Ottilia Hall lights on at dawn – evidence of occupation! 

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