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 as an oblate candidate. I feel like this is a place where I can belong. People are accepted and nudged to become a part of the world to share their talents and gifts. Being around oblates makes me feel that there is a place in the world for people who are gentle and thoughtful.
As an oblate candidate I am learning that serving is essential. We serve others as Christ serves us. Reading Wisdom Distilled from the Daily, by Joan Chittister, OSB, has helped me realize that I have gifts and that I am compelled to be a part of the world. Thank God that I have found the Rule of Benedict and the oblate community to guide me in becoming a part of the world without being destroyed by it and to help make reality better. I love how the Rule blends the outer world with inner contemplation and says that our work does make a difference.
Coming to Holy Wisdom and realizing that I have an entire year to process the Rule, learn more about myself and bond with other candidates has been such a relief. Becoming an oblate isn’t something that happens overnight. Learning and living the Rule is not about checking things off a list. There is no rush to become more spiritual or become a better version of myself. The year of formation works the way sand in an oyster shell works; through time and persistence something beautiful is produced. I do not have to meet a deadline or feel “less than” because I am not at a certain level. The Rule lets me dive in, contemplate and experience life with other oblates. It is a refreshing relief to be in such an open and comfortable environment.
In addition to learning about community, this year of formation has taught me to treat the present as holy. I see every new experience as something worthwhile and amazing; whether it’s getting on plane and flying across the country, or walking down the street and admiring the sun shining through the trees. I am hopeful and excited about the rest of my journey.