My stay in North Dakota has spanned three and a half weeks. Although I will be glad to return home, there is something bittersweet about leaving Bismarck. The Sisters here at Annunciation Monastery have welcomed us with open arms and have embodied Benedictine hospitality in a way that is both inspiring and humbling. During BSWR we have not only studied Benedictine spirituality through classes and discussion, we have experienced it daily as it is lived by this wonderful monastic community.
It is also a little bittersweet to be leaving the prairie, the Missouri River, and these wonderful bluffs above the Missouri. The meditative landscape has complemented well the reflective nature of BSWR.
And yet…I will be glad to get back home, back to the Sisters who have supported and nurtured me throughout these years of initial formation into the monastic way of life and who have made it possible for me to put on my travelin’ shoes and make my way to North Dakota.
In many ways I have not traveled up here alone. My community has been with me in Bismarck through prayer, practical support, letters and packages, and through taking on my various responsibilities back at the monastery. Most importantly, they’ve been with me in the program content itself. As I’ve listened to lectures and participated in discussions I have done so with my community in mind and heart.
Although they have been with me in spirit, and though I will miss the prairie and this monastic community, I will be so glad to wake up tomorrow, put on my travelin’ shoes, and follow the Missouri on down to Mount St. Scholastica in Kansas, and then the rest of the way back to the beautiful Tennessee River Valley and the rolling hills of northern Alabama.
Postscript: The highway sign numbered 1804 is so numbered because that is the year Lewis, Clark and the Corps of Discovery passed through here on their journey westward. The highway stretches along the eastern side of the Missouri. The highway on the western side is numbered 1806, the year the Corps passed back through on their return to the east. Over these few weeks I’ve taken many a walk along Hwy 1804, engaged in my own journey of discovery. I’ll have more to say about BSWR in a later post…once I’ve taken off my travlin’ shoes.