Reflections from St Scholastica 2/27/2011
St Scholastica Monastery, Fort Smith, Arkansas
The Sister’s have invited me to share Mass and breakfast with them this morning. They are such gracious hostesses, sharing all that they have with their guests with no care of gift in return. There is so much I can learn of hospitality from these Benedictine monks.
I rise early and prepare, fully intending to take advantage of their offer, but another longing rises up within me. Something new to my nature. “Stay with me,” He whispers softly. “Get a cup of tea and break your fast with me.”
My human heart cries out at the invitation. “But…God…I will be alone…and quiet.” It yearns, even now, for the tangible, solid companionship of the Sisters.
My true self does a happy dance and springs to the kitchenette for a cup of tea with My God. I make church by a small pond on the east side of the monastery grounds. There are six Canadian geese swimming happily there and the squirrels with their giant red tails and the robins with their thick bellies promise spring days are near.
The jonquils are beginning to bloom and tiny white and blue crocuses carpet the ground beneath my feet. There is a tree here at the edge of the water. Big and strong—I wonder at its age—the years it has seen. This monastery in the heart of this small city, has all the wonder of a rural setting, but just in case you forget where you are, the cars on the highway vroom past and the occasional thump, thump of loud music breaks the un-silence of the birds at play.
In my soul a song wells up. I don’t know the words, but I know the heart of it so I close my eyes and hum the tune to Jesus as an offering of worship. My voice is soft and crackly as I shake loose the cobwebs of extended silence. I wonder fleetingly if the Trappist monks who take a vow of silence ever feel these heartsongs? Is it ok for them to release them with their voice to Jesus?
There is so much about this place I do not understand, and yet none of that seems to matter. Jesus has met me here in a profound way. I have looked deep into the Magic Mirror and found some pieces of me that must be scrubbed away, some practices that need discipline, but most of all I found a beautiful, Beloved Child of God staring back at me. I found a monk and an artist. I found a heart that yearns for silence and the presence of God. I found an appreciation for a slower way of life…more mindful, more present, more measured.
The question now is how do I return to my world and fold into my reality the peace of this one? Solitude is not just for the monastery. This gift is not one I want to leave here next to the thank you card on my bed- “Thank you so much for the soul space…keep it for me, I’ll be back again next year!” No! This is a gift I can carry with me. But, how?
I will start small:
- Turning the car radio off while I’m driving alone.
- Asking of my family that we share 10 minutes of quiet time when we arrive home in the evening.
- On my free days, taking an hour of each day for prayer.
- Following the rhythm of the Seven Sacred Pauses during my day- using the praying of the hours to center and guide me back to “ceaseless prayer” in the present moment.
These are my commitments. Perhaps some will stay and some will fall away, but this much is certain—I will find time for solitude. Will you?
Are you looking for ways to deepen your spiritual practices? We invite you to explore the possibilities with us as we begin the “Practicing Your Path” Retreat Series based on the book by the same name by Holly Whitcomb.
Each one day women’s retreat focuses on a different spiritual discipline:
3/19/2011 Practicing Sabbath:Rediscovering God’s Design for Rest
4/9/11 Practicing the Fast: Taking Yourself Out of the Equation
5/21/2011 Embracing Your Call: Discovering Your Purpose
6/11/2011 Practicing Hospitality
8/13/2011 Practicing Prayer and Action: Living a Life of Intercession
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