Good Zeal


At 6:10 this morning I glanced at my watch. I was striding up the back chapel steps headed toward the sacristy to prepare vestments for our 8:30 Mass. I had already taken a walk, greeted an early-rising guest, and made the first pot of retreat center coffee.

And since 6:10? Well, there’s been breakfast service for guests, private prayer, Lauds, Eucharist, mid-day prayer, lunch… I’ve edited a letter with Sr. Marian, washed a load of clothes, chuckled over a microphone that failed at an inopportune (but not critical) moment, completed a bit of office work, and responded to an errant mid-morning chiming of bells that sent me rushing toward the infirmary thinking someone had died.

As I type this it’s now early afternoon. It sounds as if I have been busy, but the day has slid by quietly and serenely, filled with the odds and ends of a life spent seeking God in the midst of monastic community. It’s had a nice, gentle balance of seriousness and humor, work and prayer, solitude and community. Outside, the earth is wrapped in a robe of summer light and sky. Inside, the community carries on its monastic life with earnestness and zeal, yet with the gentle ambiance of a Saturday afternoon in the sweet, sunny South. Life is full. Life is blessed. Life is rich beyond measure, and the many gifts of this day spill through my fingers like doubloons in the hands of a seeker of fortune.

This morning, Sr. Therese received as a simple but fun birthday gift a hand-drawn treasure map. She followed the lines, the arrows, and the occasional “go west, go north” until she found a small tin box buried amidst some bricks. The box was filled with odds and ends: a rubber ball, a pencil, some marbles, a carpentry tool, a key chain, a hand-cut wooden cross, some old coins, a couple of arrowheads, a rock… Simple odds and ends, yet treasures all.

Now it’s nearing 2 pm and I’m again looking at my watch. I’m realizing how much the odds and ends of this day have been a treasure map, a treasure hunt, and the treasure itself all rolled into one bright, shining gift from God. These odds and ends – the prayer, the work, the earnestness, the humor, the silence, the activity – all bring us to one end which is our life in Christ, wherein our true treasure lies.

“Teaching from your lips is more precious to me than heaps of silver and gold…” Psalm 118:72, which we recited today during mid-day prayer.

Evening addendum: Sr. Lynn Marie returned this evening from Bristow where she attended the funeral of Sr. Denise (see previous post). She reports a beautiful celebration of Sr. Denise’s life. We continue to hold in prayer the sisters who were injured in the automobile accident, as well as the entire Bristow community.

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