Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Sad Jobs

          A silver maple located in front of our Infirmary wing was cut down this morning.  I
t had been trimmed many times as it was under the former electric lines so it was looking sad and some branches had quit producing.  But it still had many green limps although for safety reasons it had to come down. As I passed one of the workmen sweeping up the leaves I remarked, “Sad job!” and he responded, “I love trees.”  What a dilemma to love trees and yet have to cut them down.
         I began thinking about other occupations that involve a degree of sadness: demolition crews, firefighters, undertakers, miners and road construction crews who have to rearrange the land, persons who have to deliver bad news such as illness or death, military persons.  Even those in airport security who have to inform you that your luggage has problems or the cashier that informs you that your credit has run out can be added to the low point of a job.  I’m sure you can add more. Perhaps you are living one of them.
        Some of those tasks seem like a recipe for depression!  What does it take to endure these positions?  Some ideas came to mind.  For some it is knowing that you are providing a necessary service.  Some present challenges which are definitely incentives for those who are problem solvers.  Ingenuity and creativity often come into play which upon reflection are life giving.  The worker develops a skill which is personally exhilarating and puts talent to use for good.  And the list goes on.
         How happy and grateful I am for those men and women who can face these “sad jobs“.   I pray for their safety and their perseverance.  I thank God for them and ask God’s continued blessings for such very special people. 

          Sr. Mary Rabe, OSB

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Truth and Reality

       I am reading a book by M. Basil Pennington entitled The True Self/The False Self.  The book has very good insights into our true self being our identity in God, being made in God's image and likeness.  For most of us this discovery takes a life time and is aided by prayer and contemplation.

       I think also that Jesus gives us a prescription for finding our "true self" in the Gospels. For an example, if we look at the Beatitudes, we can see this prescription.  The Gospel of Matthew tells us
     "Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are they
      who mourn,
      blessed are the meek, blessed are they who hunger and thirst
      for righteousness, blessed are the clean of heart, blessed are
      the peacemakers and blessed are the persecuted." (Mt. 5:1-12).

       I think these beatitudes are all attributes of Jesus, of God who became one of us.  Jesus is calling us to be like God in whose image we are made.  Can we identify with any one of them? Perhaps we are called to strive for them and to recognize ourselves in each of them because they are a sharing in God's image and likeness.

           Sr. Barbara Woeste, OSB

Thursday, July 12, 2018

What would St. Benedict Find?

A reflection given on the July 11th Feast of St. Benedict

       Have you ever thought about Benedict as in St. Benedict coming to visit here? Well the thought came to me in a dream. What would he find at St. Walburg Monastery? What would Benedict experience? I think he would be gratified at how central to our lives is “the work of God” praying the Liturgy of the Hours and lectio. This community takes our prayer life seriously that we are to prefer nothing to the love of God as expressed in our communal prayer and in community life.

       I believe Benedict would be humbled by the way the community cares for one another – seeing that even those infirmed are quite solicitous of the other. He would observe countless small ways in which we try to lighten the burden of each other. He probably would be amazed at all our rollators! And at the same time be impressed at the desire of each sister to stay involved (the best she can) in doing the work of the community. We are rather unique in our self-sufficiency despite the fact that we have a significant number of lay helpers. Perhaps Benedict would even give a positive remark about the longevity of our lay staff: “your community must not be excessively demanding ! or your lay staff must really love you!”

       Through Benedict’s teachings and example a love for learning has been handed down for over 1500 years. We do come from a long line of educated women and have continued that tradition. Whatever our professions are now or have been in the past, a love for learning, is one we share, have shared and is central to this community.

       We are not a perfect community – Benedict might hear a bit of murmuring. However, since he commented on it so often in the Rule hearing a bit of murmuring might even make him feel at home!

        And, what might he say to each of us personally? He might ask; how much do we practice and use the tools of good works? Where are we on the climb of the ladder of humility? Do we practice the good zeal that monastics ought to live? And so on.

       I think that perhaps Benedict would give me a “pass – for now” as prioress – as I have only just begun. But I know I would have to answer as a community member. Benedict would likely take the opportunity to counsel me “to daily read over and put into practice Chapters 2 and 64 of the Holy Rule describing the qualities of an abbot or prioress. By the way, both chapters seem daunting and impossible!  I do have hope and take consolation in words from Joan Chittister regarding chapter 2 “Once chosen, it is their weakness itself that becomes the anchor, the insight, the humility and the gift of an abbot or prioress. . .but only if they themselves embrace it” knowing and realizing that it is in the acknowledgement and acceptance of my weakness that I am strong. It is with vision and understanding I can see myself strive to undertake the role.

       At the end of the visit I believe Benedict would encourage us to: continue our community quest for God, be attuned and disposed to God’s will and presence and through our mutual love and support journey together onward to God.

Joan Chittister, The Rule of Benedict: Insight for the Ages, New York, Crossroad Publishing Company. 1992

       Sr. Aileen Bankemper, OSB

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Socks and Our Times

I began knitting socks 4 years ago after a year in which I lost my mother and a very good friend. This new project required concentration which provided a needed distraction from my grief.  The rhythm of the stitches brought me a sense of comfort. I delighted in my emerging sock and in the women with whom I connected during lessons.  I learned patience as redid some parts and laughed out loud when I tried on my first sock only to have it slide down my ankle. 
            After a long hiatus I picked up my sock knitting this past weekend. In the quiet, with only the gentle sound of my wooden needles and the feel of the yarn I remembered my ea
rly days of sock knitting. My thoughts then moved to today and what lessons my sock knitting offers in light of our current times of violence, separation and unpredictability. 
·                                 Just as stitch after stitch forms a sock so do our actions, prayers and meditations make a difference in our world as we practice daily.
·                                 Focus is necessary in navigating the anatomy of the sock. We are created by love for love…our task is to remove the barriers to love and to hold our focus amidst the changing world.  (Sometimes have to circle back and repair when things don’t go as planned.)
·                                We need company. We are wired from birth for relationships which nurture and help us learn the lessons of life (or in knitting). We are also often spurred into action by our compassion for another.

            May we each one stitch/step at a time persevere in our prayer, hold our focus on the call we have received, and seek to take actions which foster connection and compassion.

          Sr. Kimberly Porter, OSB