Sojourner Diary—embracing simplicity

Rachel Olson Living in Community, Sojourner diary 4 Comments

Week 17 (of 26) I have a confession to make. Some days I really miss my highlights. When I started this journey, I was a golden, sun-kissed blond. For most of my adult life I have been one of the countless partakers of the multi-billion-dollar beauty industry that (sometimes) lets us reclaim what nature so heartlessly steals from us as we age. In our youth-oriented and appearance-conscious culture, the chance to look bright and fashion-forward can be an almost irresistible temptation. But, since moving in with the sisters, I’ve gone au natural, which sometimes leaves me feeling as drab as …

Beginning another chapter

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community Leave a Comment

On January 10, 2019, we welcomed the Rev. Nancy Enderle and the Rev. Jerry Buss, the co-directors of the Ecumenical Center for Clergy Spiritual Renewal to the coworkers at the monastery. Joanne remarked to me: “This begins another chapter.” Her comment set me thinking about the chapters in our community’s story. The sisters’ community has authored many chapters in its life. They are a testimony to the sisters hearing and responding to the needs around them. If I were to write a summary of the chapters, it might go like this. Chapter 1 – Hospital When the Sisters of Saint …

Sojourner diary—hopeful expectations

Rachel Olson Living in Community, Sojourner diary 2 Comments

Advent is a season of hopeful expectation. Nowhere is that more clearly illustrated for us than in the Gospel stories of mother-to-be Mary as she surrenders herself to God and then patiently waits for the Divine plan and purpose for her life to develop and emerge within her. I’m guessing from my own childbearing experiences that it wasn’t always easy or comfortable. For Mary, saying yes to the Spirit was risk. It was a guarantee that her life would change and that some of that change would bring pain. But, say yes to God also meant that she would be …

Learning to hope

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community Leave a Comment

In the sisters’ chapter meeting last week we began reading an article entitled “Advent Currents,” by Sr. Bede Luetkemeyer, OSB, from a 2004 issue of the magazine Spirit and Life. In the article Sr. Bede reflects on the advent themes of hope, patience and desire. In the section on hope, she quotes Lutheran theologian Jürgen Moltmann. “True hope—which means the hope that endures and sustains us—is based on God’s call and command. We are called to hope. It is a command: a command to resist death. It is a call: the call to divine life. Enduring hope is not something …

Sojourner diary

Rachel Olson Living in Community, Sojourner diary 1 Comment

Sojourner Diary Day 6 of Week 9 Today is the sixth day of the ninth week of my Benedictine Sojourner experience. I’ve been living in the community for two full months now, which isn’t all that long in the grand scheme of things, but somehow it feels like a great deal has happened to me in that time. Many things have changed and I can’t help feeling that once my sojourn is over, no matter what the future holds, I will not be quite the same person I was before I came here. This is a good thing. In my …

Knowing who we are journeying with

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community 2 Comments

Last Friday, the Servant Leadership class from UW Extension held its monthly class at the monastery. Toby Grabs, our operations manager, gave the class a tour and introduction to the monastery. I met with them to talk about how we exercise leadership in the monastery. I lifted up three principles that have guided us and served to move us into the future: listening to others collaboration and community. Because we have always been a small community and because we value collaboration and community building, we have consulted with and involved others in our ministry and decision-making through the years. In …

Stories shape us

Lynne Smith, OSB Living in Community Leave a Comment

“It is the telling of the story of the gesture of Francis which gives the heritage the power to traverse time and to be creative. It is not constitutions, not norms that do this. A movement without a legend spends its energy in ensuring its survival.” – Francis of Assisi Today, by Christian Duquoc   The quote above was part of our reading at midday prayer on October 4, 2018 for the commemoration of Francis of Assisi. What struck me was how important story is in shaping our lives. Benedictines are great story tellers. Besides reading the Rule of Benedict, …

Sojourner diary

Rachel Olson Living in Community, Sojourner diary Leave a Comment

Monday, October 15 Dear Reader(s), Back when Sisters Joanne Kollasch and Lynne Smith were in the process of discerning with me about becoming a Sojourner, I suggested that I should keep a journal as part of my three-month monastic experience. At the time of that well intended suggestion, I was envisioning myself being rested, relaxed and in a reflective state of mind. I imagined that I would be sitting serenely in some sunny corner of Bingen House with my journal in front of me and a pen in hand. I pictured having time to freely open my mind, spread out …

Restoration and hope

Lynne Smith, OSB Care for the Earth, Living in Community Leave a Comment

Restoration is a powerful antidote to despair. Restoration offers concrete means by which humans can once again enter into positive, creative relationship with the more-than-human world, meeting responsibilities that are simultaneously material and spiritual.  –Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer (p. 328)   I made a quick trip to Illinois to visit my brother and his wife and my sister and her husband last week. It was fun to see them and get caught up even if for just a few days. It rained the three days I visited my brother and his wife in Naperville, Illinois. Since we couldn’t go …

Agridulce or bittersweet

Paz Vital, OSB Justice, Living in Community Leave a Comment

My experience at the Hispanic Summer Program (HSP) in Dallas was agridulce or bitter-sweet. It was dulce-sweet because I was able to be around people who look like me. My teachers and most of my fellow students looked like me and spoke Spanish like me. I was able to speak Spanish. I was able to worship in my native language. It was very natural for all of us to go back and forth speaking Spanglish. We shared common stories and experiences. The topics of our classes were all about Latin@theology and the way Latin@s express our religiosity. It was very …