This 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.
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