Down in the barn this past Thursday – precariously poised with one foot on a ladder, the other on a rickety table, a hammer in my right hand, and a nail in the left – the old advertising line about walking “a mile for a Camel” came to mind. We have three ‘camels’ here at Sacred Heart, and we will do nearly anything for them, not only walk a mile, but even stretch well into the outer edges of gravity in a perilous reach to place a nail into a beam.
The three Sisters to whom the ‘camel’ appellation has been mysteriously applied are Sister Mary Vincent, Sister Mary Adrian, and Sister Mary. Nearly two years ago, these three were asked to organize the process of clearing out Ottilia Hall and other areas of the monastery in preparation for renovation. No one really knows how the ‘clearing out committee’ became the ‘camels,’ but once applied, the name stuck. Perhaps it is because they are carrying the monastery and everything in it on their backs as we all traverse the desert of transition. But whatever the reason, references to the ‘clearing out committee’ have long ceased. It is simply ‘the camels.’ And we would all walk more than a mile for them.
Their work over the past two years has involved not only organizing the disposition and/or relocation of furniture, pianos, monastery archives, the monastic library, and the accumulated household goods of 107 years, but more importantly, coordinating the temporary moves of all the Sisters who live and work in Ottilia. The ‘camels’ have labored tirelessly to manage this process in a way that is thoughtful, methodical, deeply respectful of our heritage, and infinitely hopeful for our future. They have coordinated and consulted ceaselessly with individual Sisters and with our our community Administrators.
In addition to the moves, the camels have taken us through a major yard sale and an auction. A second yard sale is just a couple of weeks away, and their recent labors have focused on this event. It was for the camels that I climbed the ladder last week as I helped them prepare the barn (shown above) for the sale.
All of their efforts, whether handling a 25-cent yard sale item or an irreplaceable archival document, have been entirely in keeping with St. Benedict’s instruction to care for “all utensils and goods of the monastery as sacred vessels of the altar, aware that nothing is to be neglected (RB 31:10-11).” They have cared well for us, their Sisters, in the process, and we are all grateful. They have walked many miles for us over the past two years, treading ceaselessly through the halls and rooms of the monastery, planning a disposition for every item. We’d all gladly walk a few miles for them – and even stretch to the outer limits of gravity up in the rafters of a barn.
Postscript: See our Community News web page for more information about the yard sale, and a photo of the ‘camels.’