Just a quick blog post to let our friends know that the Benedictine Sisters of Cullman are safe and sound following Wednesday’s storm. For those who have not heard, a tornado passed through our monastery property on Wednesday afternoon. A summary of monastery damage can be found on the Community News page of our website. As of Saturday morning, we remain without power or phone service. I am posting this blog entry from a wi-fi post that has been set up at our local radio station, WKUL.
We are doing fine at the monastery. For those of you who know us, we are simply being who we are – very Benedictine. We are working hard, working joyfully, working prayerfully, encouraging one another, caring for our elders, enjoying meals by candle light, ceasing our work for liturgical prayer, letting our a capella chant fill the chapel, holding our neighbors and fellow Alabamians in our hearts, adapting our schedule to the rising and setting of the sun….
We have made tremendous progress in the past two and a half days toward clearing the huge amount of storm debris that the tornado scattered across our property. Roof repair is well underway. The most crucial tree removals have begun. We have had help from many quarters: Golden Construction Company, ArchitectureWorks, Kinetic Communications, our amazing and incredibly hardworking staff, and the nearby Cenocolo Community. We appreciated a visit from Bishop Robert Baker, who conveyed the prayers and support of our diocese. We have also heard from Benedictines and friends from around the country and as far away as Rome.
The Sisters at the monastery rode out the storm gathered in an interior hallway. Continuing tornado warnings throughout the evening meant that we spent much of the evening still gathered together in a safe place. We prayed Vespers by flashlight, sitting in the hallway. Because much of Wednesday evening was spent indoors, we could not do a full damage assessment until Thursday morning. But once morning came, we prayed Lauds, ate a candlelight breakfast with coffee made the old-fashioned way, and got to work.
We have moved seamlessly into what is a “new normal.” Work gloves and sturdy shoes are the order of the day. Everyone has settled into roles appropriate for them – some of us hauling heavy metal and plywood out of the yard, some sweeping glass from broken windows, some helping in the darkened kitchen, some serving as message couriers, etc. All of us are well. All of us are in good spirits. We are deeply saddened by the scope and depth of the destruction – a scope that is apparent each time we reach to the earth to pick up yet another handful of shingles from someone’s shattered home. We ask our friends to continue to pray for us, but we especially request your prayers for those who lost life, limb, home, family member, church, and workplace.
Please know how grateful we are for your prayers and support. Once usual communication modes are reestablished, we will be back in routine touch with our dear families and friends.
Postscript: Photos have not been a priority, but here are a few. The debris that is shown is not from the monastery. It is from homes, churches, and businesses of Cullman, and perhaps even further away, brought here by the wind.