My Benedictine Rule: A Haibun of Reflections

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by David McKee Preface Concerning the word “haibun”… The writing and study of haiku is one of the pillars of my life. So, I have chosen to express my Rule in the form of a haibun:  a Japanese literary form which consists of prose interspersed with haiku. The relationship of the haiku to the prose is often mysterious. They make sense to me, and I hope they make some sense to you. Though I am giving what follows the title of “Rule,” it is essentially a series of reflections on the spiritual dimensions of my life and how they are interwoven …

2016 Benedictine Retreat

Meet Sister Helen Prejean and Sister Marya Grathwohl

Car McGinley Justice, Oblates Leave a Comment

By Sue Pearson In these fractious times when many are leading lives of not-so-quiet desperation, we need to heed those who remind us that All Life is One Sacred Wholeness: We are All Connected. The Oblates of Holy Wisdom Monastery are delighted to welcome Sisters Helen Prejean and Marya Grathwohl, who will be conducting this retreat. They will explore the twin themes of care for the earth and people, especially our most vulnerable brothers and sisters. This event is also open to the public. Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, will highlight her work with prisoners on death row, with victims’ families and …

Front door and windows of Holy Wisdom Monastery seen through yellow spring flowers blooming in the surrounding prairie

Unraveling and coming home

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by Brad S. Lutz, oblate class of 2000 In the Wizard of Oz Dorothy performs a simple magic spell: she clicks the heels of her magic slippers and repeats, “There’s no place like home….” Walking through the doors of Holy Wisdom Monastery does not require magic but it is an enchanting homecoming. The familiar sounds of bells and psalms, the warm embrace of the monastery’s communities gladden my heart—it’s like I’ve never been away and nothing has changed. Truth is, however, I live a long way from this amazing place and it is increasingly expensive to travel. Truth is, connections …

Nancy Breitsprecher

Changes and chances

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by Nancy Breitsprecher, Oblate class of 2002 Despite the pressure to live in the “now,” my gratitude is to Holy Wisdom Monastery and the oblate program that have led me along through my later years. Back in the 1980s I visited Saint Benedict Center—attending a few retreats, browsing the library as a new preacher.Becoming an oblate is to take a particular path through the “changes and chances of this mortal life,” as noted in many older books of common prayer. In 2001 my husband Paul and I came to a retreat and learned about Holy Wisdom Oblates. I was 70 at …

From compost to new life—the promise of spring

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by Sherri Hansen, Oblate class of 2010 As ice melts and the world becomes green, I never cease to be amazed at the promise of spring and rebirth. Like many gardeners, I am eager to get out in my beds and prepare for the new season. Gardening, for me, is a spiritual and contemplative practice in being in the present moment. Each day brings the ritual watering, weeding and reveling in fleeting floral beauty. One of the most important parts of my garden is my compost pile. In the spring, as I rake and turn it, I see fragments of flowers and vegetable material caught …

Writing my personal rule

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by Sue Ellen Zagrabelny, oblate class of 2010 About this time six years ago I was beginning the process of writing my personal rule. The task seemed daunting. I received guidance from the Formation Circle leaders, but then it was time to step off on my own. I reviewed the Rule of Benedict and fairly quickly decided that Grace, Stability and Radical Hospitality would make up the three arms of my personal rule. I hoped it would enfold me and guide me as I embarked on the adventure of being Benedictine. Surprisingly, the decision to make my rule a musical rule came …

Oblate journey began with a six day retreat at Holy Wisdom Monastery

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by Mary Ann Erdtmann, oblate class of 2008 Mary Ann Erdtmann My journey as a Benedictine Oblate began in December, 1997, when my late husband, Ralph and I made a 6‐day TIME (Together in Monastic Experience) retreat at Holy Wisdom Monastery. I fell in love with the rhythm of Centering Prayer, Liturgy of the Hours, work, meals with the sisters and guests, and study of the Rule of Benedict. We took long walks, holding hands and basking in the beauty of God’s nature. After the third day, I said to Ralph, “I am so happy that it’s not ending yet, and we have three …

The priceless value of community

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by Sarah Miller, oblate candidate, 2016 (pictured, right, on a recent trip along the Oregon coast) When I applied to be an oblate of Holy Wisdom earlier this year, I thought my year of formation would be like this: I would get to read good books, chit chat over a meal, but could basically keep to myself and enjoy the peace and quiet of the Holy Wisdom grounds. I hadn’t yet learned the priceless value of community. Although I had never experienced being part of a close-­knit community, I now know it is something I have wanted and have found …

The Rule offers balance for my life

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by Janine M Veto, oblate class of 2012   I came to Holy Wisdom seeking a framework and a community within which I could deepen my spirituality. I am, by nature, an ecumenical and eclectic seeker: scraps of Buddhism, Jung, a host of writers and artists are all layered thickly over the static, patriarchal Catholicism of my youth, which I emphatically exited in my teens. My professional life since moving to Madison nine years ago has been in the environmental field, while my 25 years in New York was steeped in the arts, my first and most enduring vehicle for …

Beginning again

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by Collette Jones, oblate class of 2015 My year-long period of formal oblate formation ended in April of this year. Our class shared our personal rules with each other and the sisters. We made our vows of commitment as an oblate during the beautiful and meaningful service at Holy Wisdom Monastery. (Collette is pictured on that day, right, photo by Kathleen Wessels) Now what??? Now comes that inevitable shift in energy and focus after a significant and long anticipated event, a shift that leaves us feeling a bit disoriented and adrift. After something like a graduation or a holiday or …