Sister Magdalena has returned from Wales along with the Benedictine Journeys
tour group that she led for two weeks. I met them at the airport, which meant that I was the fortunate one who was able to hear the first rush of stories. They told of Cardiff and Snowdon and Hay-on-Wye and old churches and warm, friendly folk and wonderful tour guides and beautiful countryside and green upon green as far as the eye can see.
For two weeks the travelers formed a community, and by the end of their shared journey they had shared stories to tell. Delayed luggage meant an airport dinner, and over a grilled cheese sandwich and iced tea I listened happily to their animated conversation. Their individual remembrances darted here and there, yet converged to create a larger story of a common journey. As I listened it seemed as if both shared experience and shared remembrance helped create their pilgrim community.
Our monastic community has been here in Cullman since 1902. Our stories are countless, and while we live in the present and prepare for the future, our conversation is constantly peppered with remembrances of the past, both recent and distant. Our common life and monastic commitment constitute us as a community, yet the telling of stories helps to sustain and form our monastic bond over the decades and generations. The stories move ever
forward, incor-porating new characters and new events along the way, while remaining embedded within a larger narrative that reaches beyond the present moment and transcends any single individual or event.
Yet the stories we tell are not just ours. We are Benedictine, and share in the legacy of St. Benedict and centuries of Benedictine life. More importantly, as part of the Body of Christ, our story belongs not just to us but to the People of God and to the world. We are woven into the fabric of the Church and share in the Church’s story. Our liturgy is marked with the stories of those who preceded us in the faith, and images from the narrative of scripture and the lives of
the saints fill our chapel and monastery. And daily we encounter the story of salvation history as it unfolds through the liturgical year.
It’s like a set of nested dolls – our individual stories held within the community’s story held within our Benedictine story, and all held within the grand narrative of God’s salvific love that forms and shapes us as a community in Christ. May we always tell this story with the enthusiasm and wonder of a traveler returning from a distant isle, who has experienced green upon green as far as the eye can see.
1) The journeying Sister Magdalena
2) Sister Therese took this photo yesterday as Sister Mary Jude described to her the original parish school where our founding Sisters once taught
3) Sister Tonette reviews upcoming plans with the community as we carry our story forward
4) Our chapel is full of images of the Christian story, as well as images that convey our Benedictine heritage.