Susan Pearson receives a hug from Sister Mary David Walgenbach with Sister Lynne Smith standining close by.

Providing opportunities for transformation

Lynne Smith, OSB Building Community, Living in Community 2 Comments

Over the years when people have worked with the sisters on marketing and getting the word out about the monastery, they often ask, “What is your product?” They are trying to help us articulate clearly the benefit the monastery provides to the public. It is a good marketing question, but it has never felt as if it quite fits what the monastery does. At the recent oblate retreat when the oblate candidates were sharing their personal rules and their experiences during the candidate year, it came to me that the “product” the monastery provides is transformed people. Actually that is …

Discernment and the Spiritual Life: Prayer, Mindfulness, and Community

Holy Wisdom Monastery Leave a Comment

In the midst of life’s mysteries and difficulties, the process of sorting through our feelings, experiences, and choices can be challenging. How do we make those choices? What is discernment? How is discernment practiced within the spiritual life? Gaining insights from such stories as Jesus’ temptation in the Gospel of Luke and others, we will explore these questions as we experience the process of discernment through lectio divina (divine reading), contemplative prayer, community, and mindfulness. Lunch is included. Dr. Andre B. Heuer  D. Min. LICSW has supported and challenged individuals for 40 years as a psychotherapist, educator, and pastoral minister working …

Oblates gathering in community

What is community?

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

People often come to the monastery looking for community. Community is a slippery word that is used with a wide range of meanings and lots of unspoken expectations. We talk about community around the monastery because community is central to Benedictine life. But the question remains: what is community? We probably each have different understandings and expectations of what it means. I recently came across one definition that seems simple and helpful. It doesn’t say everything, yet it is a place to start. Charles Vogl, in his article, “Behind every strong leader is a strong community,” defines community as: “a …

The creative tension of opposites

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

I recently read a quotation on creative tension that has me intrigued. It was entitled: The Tension of Opposites and the Power of Love: “… all our lives we are faced with the task of reconciling opposites which, in logical thought, cannot be reconciled… How can one reconcile the demands of freedom and discipline in education? Countless mothers and teachers, in fact, do it, but no one can write down a solution. They do it by bringing into the situation a force that belongs to a higher level where opposites are transcended—the power of love… Divergent problems, as it were, …

4 sisters gathered around deep dish pizza

Milestones

Rosy Kandathil, OSB Letters home, Living in Community 13 Comments

I was turning 40. There was no avoiding it, but for the weeks leading up to my birthday I tried not to indulge a creeping sense of dread. Although I could laugh over the prospect of having to check the “40 and over” survey box, I also felt anxious about crossing a threshold into middle age. There is something about milestones that force reflection, self-assessment, and in my case—mild depression. What had I accomplished with my life? I would be turning 40 at a monastery, with nothing to my name. All the accomplishments of a legal career built during my …

Perspective from monastery hilltop overlooking prairie, Lake Mendota and Madison in the distance.

Gaining perspective in contentious times

Lynne Smith, OSB Building Community, Living in Community 6 Comments

I was talking with a leader of a class being held at the monastery last week. While he was on break, he spoke about the reasons he likes coming to the monastery. He said coming to the monastery helps him gain perspective on his work. The view from the top of the hill of the capital and downtown Madison represents this change of perspective. He teaches at the university and finds it helpful to come across the lake periodically to step back and look at his life and work from another viewpoint. The sisters have been reading Joan Chittister’s commentary …

Sisters walking together outdoors

Passionate about building community

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

Sister Joanne often says, “Building community is one of the things we do around here.” Indeed it is. You could say we are passionate about building community at Holy Wisdom Monastery. In the sisters’ community and the oblate community, in Sunday Assembly, among coworkers, Benedictine Sojourners and Friends of Wisdom Prairie—we seek to foster personal connections where people can find a welcome acceptance for who they are and a vibrant place to give and receive personal gifts and experience the divine. Many people today express a desire for community in a society where they experience so much divisiveness and isolation. …

Sojourners Paz and Denise standing together holding their favorite crosses

Tequio, or ‘giving back’ Mexican style

Paz Vital Little notes from a prairie journey, Living in Community 2 Comments

Have you ever asked yourself about your gifts? What is a gift? Do you have gifts? What kind of gift or how many gifts do you have? And if you have ever asked yourself these questions (we all have gifts), have you used your gifts properly, generously? In the native communities in Mexico, everybody knows their gifts and uses them for the welfare of the whole community.  People in these ancestral towns call this action Tequio. They think that all we are or have in the present time is thanks to the determination of our ancestors, who planned and constructed …

Sisters and sojourners share conversation over breakfast preparations

Community living

Lynne Smith, OSB Building Community, Living in Community 3 Comments

On Mondays in Bingen House, where I live with Rosy and the sojourners, Denise and Paz, we have developed something of a tradition we call “Monday Breakfasts.” Monday is our day of renewal for activities that refresh us body, soul and spirit. We have leisure time in the morning to make a big breakfast which usually turns into brunch. You might recognize this tradition in your house on a Saturday or Sunday. Sojourners Denise (far left) and Paz (far right) and Sisters Rosy (middle, left) and Lynne (middle, right) preparing breakfast together. This past Monday we stood around the kitchen …