When one of our Sisters was recently asked how we were coping with living in the middle of a construction zone, she replied, “We just keep on living…” She shrugged her shoulders as she spoke, as if it was the most normal thing in the world to have a masonry saw screaming outside one dining room window and welding sparks flying outside another while quietly eating a monastery lunch on a paper plate because another unmarked water line just got hit and there is no water with which to wash dishes.
Through it all we just keep on living. Our liturgy hasn’t missed a beat. We have never ceased welcoming guests. We say the same mealtime prayers at the same mealtimes. Our vocation program continues to welcome newcomers into our life. Sr. Kathleen keeps tending the plants. Sr. Regina keeps watering the gingko seedlings. Sr. Jane keeps gathering pecans from the lawn and shelling them with Sr. Emilie. Sr. Magdalena keeps doting over Kitty B, with the rest of us not far behind her in our level of affection for our dear little cat. Sr. Brigid keeps bringing in the mail each day. Sr. Bernadette keeps picking up the morning paper. Sr. Kathleen Christa keeps us all up to date with prayer requests that are sent to us. We greet the ever-present workmen as we pass them in the corridors or on the grounds. We direct guests toward the latest iteration of the monastery entrance. And on and on.
So we just keep on living. And we keep on living like Benedictines, seeking God by living under a Rule and a Prioress in the midst of all circumstances, even the circumstances of a real live bona fide living color surround sound construction zone. But I think the things that keep us grounded the most are our spirit of gratitude, the fact that we are going through this together and are able to help one another through challenging times, and the knowledge that this is no ordinary construction zone. It is the house of the Lord, and we are so grateful to witness, and yes experience, the much-needed improvements that we trust will bring glory to God.
this Benedictine life of ora et labora, prayer and work, all under the beneficient gaze of our Lord.
Postscript: One can never really anticipate what a day will bring, and some days bring some very unwelcome surprises. Today was one of them. It’s all too long, too multi-faceted, and way too complicated to explain – but I can assure you the word “paradise” was not on anyone’s lips today. The big picture does help though, but what helps the most is our support of one another as we inch our way there. Good leadership also helps us keep it all in perspective and keeps us organized, on track, and our monastic life intact as we work our way through all these transitions. Thanks be to God for our Prioress and her team!
Photo at top: Sr. Kathleen has kept the planters planted throughout, even at the edge of the construction zone.
Middle photo: View from our dining room a few months ago. This building (new kitchen and Retreat Center dining) now has its second story and is nearing completion.
Photo at bottom: A portion of our back yard at dusk. Our carport at right has co-existed with the construction zone at left and the construction trailers in the distance.