yellow leaf smThis morning over Lost Lake on the monastery grounds I see the full moon in the sunlight of day. As if that isn’t enough to stop me for a moment, just then a flock of little black birds rustles free from the treetops and flies right across that moon. Another flock comes from a different direction, and then a third no less, dotting the sky with flapping wonder. It is LaGuardia Airport but softer, a symphony of wings. Though earthbound, I am lifted.

I need that. I am feeling heavy laden. Sometimes that’s just the way it is for me, especially in autumn. I experience plenty of delight at the colorful show of leaves. I am filled with gratitude for a harvest of blessing in family, friends, community and the things that make me smile. And yet there is no way around it, death is in the air. Many are the losses in life – my own, of those people I know and that of the stranger – I need only look into the eye of another or listen to the news. Also, there is a visceral sense of hunkering down in both humans and other creatures as the days grow dark; we know that a long, cold winter is coming. Yikes.

Yet the trees bare their souls. Ironically, the diminishment of the prairie is giving way to whole new vistas and perspectives. So what am I learning at this point in community life at Holy Wisdom Monastery? Monastic life has a way of taking one to the limit and pretense of one’s ego. The longer I am here and engaged the more I am being challenged to grow according to God’s plan, not my own; to be shaped in the image of Christ, not what I can make of myself in the world or even the monastery. I realize I am being called to move beyond the “I,” as Sister Joanne calls our self-centered ways of thinking and being.

There is always that which needs to die in ourselves. Painful, but not a bad thing. Even Jesus descended into Sheol, and God was there, and you know the rest of the story. I am seeing that to honestly face into one’s utter dependence on God is frightening, but I trust that as I go deeper I am learning. The joy of monastic life is that the whole structure of prayer and work provides a safe container. Monastic community is life giving. It gives us every good reason to open to change and the Spirit and who God created us to be.

Letting go
Listen. Listen
to a leaf falling
Yes, you can hear it
somewhere inside you
when the wind sweeps clear
a space for shaking off
the last holding on
giving over to grace.

____________________________

Read Trish’s previous posts at:  A Benedictine Sojourner’s View

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Audrey November 8, 2013 at 1:41 pm

I love the imagery of the birds, the leaf falling, the letting go. Beautiful.

But sooo hard to do!

Thanks, Trish! You are often in my thoughts and prayers – Audrey

Reply

Trish Stefanik November 14, 2013 at 10:41 am

Yes, simple but not easy! I like to remind myself that we were all born through Love, for Love, to fall in Love again and again, even when it hurts. Thanks so much, Audrey, for your thoughts and prayers! You are in mine.

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Vicki November 8, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Thanks for your post, Trish! Hope you are all well. Hunkering down here, too, and getting ready for the whirlwind of activity that is Advent. My best to you and all at HWM.

Reply

Trish Stefanik November 14, 2013 at 10:43 am

Great to hear from you Vicki. All the best to you — and come back to visit!

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The Very Rev. Donald W. Krickbaum November 9, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Trish:
Thank you for your profound reflection. Obviously the deep spiritual awareness that has always been present in you grows even deeper through your experience at the monastery. I think the heart of Beneductine monastic life is the movement into deep listening – listening with the ear of the heart. You make that awareness and the openness to “listen” very apparent is this very helpful article.

Blessings and peace,
Don

Reply

Trish Stefanik November 14, 2013 at 10:47 am

Thanks for your beautiful words of encouragement, Don. Please keep me and all the sojourners in your prayers.

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