Rodent wrangling and ambiguity

Kate Stel Care for the Earth, Living in Community Leave a Comment

This week, on Tuesday morning, a group of us headed over to the garden. We hoped to beat the day’s heat and get some weeding and other work done before it became unbearably hot and humid. Sister Paz Vital and I were working in a fenced-in garden plot that contained rows of okra, cabbage, radishes, kale and a huge grouping of tomato plants. Suddenly, I heard a rustling in the corner of the garden near where we were working. The many, many weeds in that corner shook. A rabbit emerged, bounding through the garden. “BUNNY!” I yelled to Sister Paz. …

A summer walk on the prairie

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community 4 Comments

At our recent staff retreat day, I went out for a walk in the prairie. Over the past two years we have been redesigning some of the trails on the property to follow the contours and interest points of the land. On Tuesday, I decided to follow a new trail that begins north of the orchard on the top of the hill. I crossed the gravel road and entered the path through an opening between two evergreen trees that leads into a meadow. The old path wrapped around the outside of the meadow. But this new path takes the walker …

Guests bring a blessing

Lynne Smith, OSB Hospitality, Living in Community Leave a Comment

  The sisters at Holy Wisdom have received a lot of guests recently. We greet the groups who come to use our space for their meetings and retreats. We get to know personal retreatants over meals in the community dining room. When I first came to the monastery, as an introvert, I found it taxing to have new people with us at every meal. Now I look forward to meeting them. Saint Benedict says that a monastery is never without guests. Indeed, we wouldn’t really be a Benedictine monastery without guests. We are called to provide hospitality and serve others. …

One last blog

Diane Ray Living in Community 2 Comments

  As my last blog, I am writing to let everyone know about my plans after my sojourner experience (for the few of you I have not already told) and to thank you all for your part in my time at the monastery. After I am done with this six-month program at Easter, I will be living in Madison for a few months. I have the honor and time commitment to be in two wedding parties, so I will stick around until they are done. After that, I hope to move to Illinois to start my Masters in Library Science, …

We are the Body of Christ

Lynne Smith, OSB 65th Anniversary, Living in Community, Sunday Assembly 6 Comments

One of the experiences that profoundly shaped my life as a sister at Holy Wisdom Monastery was the listening sessions we held in October of 2005 with members of Sunday Assembly to hear your input and concerns about the future of Sunday Assembly. The issue we were grappling with was how we would conduct Sunday worship as an ecumenical community. The sisters had discussed this matter for several years with our Ecumenical board. We laid several options on the table. Each sister could go to her own denominational church. We could go as a group to churches of various denominations …

Serving others, being served

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community 2 Comments

A couple weeks ago when we had snow on a Sunday morning, I got up early to plow the driveways at home. The snow blower on the tractor wasn’t working properly so it took longer than usual. I saw the problem, but couldn’t fix it myself especially in single digit temperatures in the dark of pre-dawn. I made a mental note to contact Paul, our groundskeeper, to see if he could fix the trouble on Monday so it would be ready for the next snow. Later that morning at the monastery, before Sunday Assembly, someone told me of a friend …

The gift of encuentro

Denise West, OSB Living in Community Leave a Comment

Last November, Sister Lynne Smith, Sister Paz Vital and I headed up to Milwaukee for a conference on the future of religious communities in the United States. The theme of the conference was Encuentro, and the focus was around the great diversity of cultures in this country and the changing face of religious communities as greater numbers of women and men born outside the US join American religious orders. The keynote speaker was Sister Teresa Maya, president-elect of the Leadership Conference for Women Religious. A native of Mexico City, she is a member of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate …

Contributing to kindness

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community 5 Comments

Lately, I’ve resolved to see and contribute to small acts of kindness or simple friendliness. The news tells us every day about so much violence and cruelty that it is easy to conclude that meanness and terror is the general atmosphere in the world. I find it important to remind myself that there is much more going on in the world than violence. The human heart is inherently compassionate. The past few days, I’ve experienced a number of small acts of kindness that have reminded me of this. At a gas station, the person at the pump next to me …

Book repair at the monastery

Diane Ray Library, Living in Community 6 Comments

Monasteries of every tradition have a long history of preserving knowledge and books. For the last few months, while living at Holy Wisdom Monastery as part of the Sojourner program, I have been a small part of that tradition. Nancy Sandleback, collections manager at the monastery, came up with the idea after learning that I had some experience with book repair. I worked at Grimm Book Bindery in Madison over the summer, and continue to work there on Mondays. Most of the books from the monastery library only needed a small fix—a bit of glue to secure a spine or …

Mexican celebrations during Advent

Paz Vital, OSB Living in Community Leave a Comment

Growing up in Mexico, every year around this time everyone looks forward to major festivities. The Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated on December 12. It’s a huge celebration throughout the whole country which commemorates the appearances of the Virgin Mary to an Aztec man in the 16th century. The story is that Mary appeared to Juan Diego and sent him on a mission to have a shrine built in her honor. He hardly felt capable of achieving this task since he was an indigenous man and spoke Nahuatl, not the Spanish of the Bishop. At first the …