Making meaning of suffering

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community Leave a Comment

“There is only one thing that I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings.” – Fyodor Dostoevsky The above quote comes from a Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) Occasional Paper by Ted Dunn entitled: “The Role of Meaning-Making in Transitional Times.”  The sisters have been reading and discussing this in our daily morning meeting. The quote caused all of us to stop and consider what Dostoevsky might have meant by being “worthy of one’s sufferings.” In the article, Dunn relies on the work of Victor Frankl who was in a concertation camp during World War II. Dunn writes: …

Reflections of a racist nun #2

Denise West, OSB Living in Community, Racist nun 3 Comments

This past Sunday David McKee gave a wonderfully Benedictine homily on the well-known passage from Matthew 16. All the quotations in this reflection are from his homily of August 30. 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”  David says that Jesus “then follows up by turning the disciples’ view inward, to the deeper truth of his ministry and his life. He explains to them what it really …

wilderness heals

The power of presence in the wilderness

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community Leave a Comment

During my staycation I read The Wisdom of Wilderness, by Gerald May. I highly recommend it. Gerald May was a psychiatrist and a senior fellow in contemplative theology and psychology at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation in Bethesda, Maryland. He wrote many books and articles blending spirituality and psychology. He writes of his experiences camping solo in the wilderness of the Allegheny mountains.  He says he was called into wilderness and guided by a Presence that he names “The Power of the Slowing.” He equates this Presence and its guidance with Wisdom. I was captured by his experience and …

Reflections of a racist nun*

Denise West, OSB Living in Community, Racist nun, Uncategorized 14 Comments

Did the title catch your attention? I hope so, because it is intentional. I wonder what the world would be like if every morning thousands of white people took a page from 12-step programs and greeted one another with, “Hello. My name is _______, and I am racist.” I was recently diagnosed with the disease of racism. The strange thing is that I made the diagnosis myself, which is really the only way you can know if you have it. The metaphor of racism as a disease (as opposed to racism as individual actions carried out consciously by bad white …

Grace in disruption?

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community 7 Comments

Since the beginning of Lent, I’ve been slowly reading Michael Casey’s book: Grace On the Journey to God. The title of his first chapter “The Grace of Discontinuity” caught me off guard. Being a person who likes order, I had never thought of discontinuity as a grace. Then COVID-19 hit bringing more discontinuity than any of us could have imagined. When I was thinking about where to find hope in these times, I went back to Casey’s book. Casey would have us appreciate the role of discontinuity in our lives as the thing that moves us along the spiritual journey. …

Looking Back: ‘Ecumenical Monastic Life Offers Journey into a New Culture’ (2003) by Erica Thiessen

Brooke Moriarty Benedictine Bridge, Community of Benedict, Interfaith Relations, Living in Community, Looking Back, Monastic Life, Rule of Benedict 1 Comment

In 2003, Erica Thiessen was a novice of Benedictine Women of Madison. In Issue 12 of Benedictine Bridge from Ordinary Time 2003, she wrote this article reflecting on the value of Benedictine life in relation to her own experiences as a Mennonite. I have been journeying into different lands from almost before I was born. My parents were both Russian Mennonite immigrants to Canada. As a family, we traveled to Ghana and Trinidad where my father taught school. In ways, I became a pilgrim, and for much of my adult life, I have lived and worked around the world. Always …

Finding God in Grief

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community 16 Comments

Walking outside has long been a regular part of my life. Since coming to the monastery, walking the grounds has become an important part of my prayer life. Moving my body also helps me process my feelings. A couple of weeks ago I went out for a walk with a sense of grief that I hadn’t been able to access fully. Walking slowly helps me notice what’s around me and what thoughts are arising. I walked through the pine woods, came out into the oaks and slowed down to a stop. I stood in place for a few minutes, letting …

Lent – 2020

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community, Prayer & Worship, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Every year Lent offers us an opportunity to reflect on our lives and the values by which we live. Traditional practices such as prayer, fasting and alms-giving draw us first inward in an examination of our living out of Gospel values and then send us out in service to our neighbors.  This year the COVID-19 virus provides an additional challenge and opportunity for reflection and service. Saint Benedict in his Rule tells us to daily remind ourselves that we are going to die (RB 4:47). Rather than a morbid focus on death, this is a call to humility, to remember …

Listening

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community 2 Comments

I offered the following as formation in Benedictine spirituality at our Benedictine Women of Madison Board retreat on January 23, 2020. It is based primarily on Joan Chittister’s chapter on listening in Wisdom Distilled from the Daily. Benedict, following Scripture, puts great emphasis on listening as the way to find God. Benedict begins his rule with this verse in the Prologue: “Listen carefully, my child, to my instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart. This is advice from one who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice.” What is especially significant to note …