I received an email from Sr. Bernadette with a garden update from the monastery – squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant…. I wrote back and said “You are growing tomatoes. I am growing papers.”
In my Mark class, I’ve got two short papers down and one very long paper still to go. As I thought about Sr. Bernadette’s squash and eggplant, I realized the comparison is about right. Good soil, light, time, gestation, some sweat, and slowly a paper – or a tomato – is formed.
This time at Saint John’s University is about growth, but it’s not just about the papers. It’s about grounding me more thoroughly in our monastic tradition, in theology, and in scripture. This is not the only way to get rooted in these areas, of course, but this is where the Initial Formation team at the monastery felt would be the best place for me at this time. I am hoping my school papers flourish as nicely as Sr. Bernadette’s garden, but more importantly I hope that these studies help me to ripen in my monastic vocation and that they are fruitful not just for me, but for our monastic community.
Postscript: Sisters spend several years in Initial Formation prior to making final monastic profession (often called ‘final vows’). Our formation is overseen by a Director and a Formation Team. Most of our classes are at the monastery, taught by Sisters who have Master’s level preparation in various areas of theology. Occasionally there may be additional study away from home. While our studies are to help form us as individual monastics, our formation is not merely about personal or professional growth. It is always in service to something beyond us as we are formed to the total giving of self that constitutes the monastic way of life. (Thanks to Sr. Therese for the photo of this summer’s tomatoes!)