Nothing Ordinary Here!

Now that Pentecost is over, we have returned to Ordinary Time in the cycle of the Church.  Nothing is ordinary about it, however.  We travel with Jesus as he begins his public ministry of healing, forgiving and preaching the Kingdom of God.  On Pentecost he blesses his disciples with the Spirit that will continue to guide them in their carrying on the ministry of Jesus.  Like Jesus, his disciples are in for a rough time of it. Continue Reading

Novice Jackie becomes Sister Jackie!

In her 40’s, Jackie Walsh (far right) was happy. She had a great job as a business systems analyst, a comfortable home in Bloomington, Ill., and a new Ford Focus. She had lots of friends. And she belonged to an active and wonderful parish.

So why did she chuck it all to jump half-blind into the counter-cultural, misunderstood and little-known world of a Benedictine monastery? Because God called. Continue Reading

A Powerful and Life-Giving Prayer: Friday, June 10

Parting the clouds like water, the sun shone brightly this morning for the first time in 2 days. As we gather now for our conference, it slips behind the clouds, dimming the diamonds in the grass. From the top of a nearby sapling, a cherry red cardinal calls out. No answer. He tries again. Below, our chipmunk continues her looting operation beneath the bird feeders, darting to her nest again and again, cheeks full. Continue Reading

The Winding Road of Forgiveness: Wednesday June 8

Another warm, breezy morning greets us as we gather in the dining room for our conference. Thunderstorms have been forecast for the afternoon, but the sky looks benign right now. Haze tints the horizon a pale white and a few tufts of wool pass lazily overhead. Down to earth, a chipmunk races between the bird feeders and her nest, cheeks bulging with her loot. Abbot John brings us back to our immediate purpose, saying, Good Morning. Continue Reading

The Humble Shall Be Exalted: Tuesday June 7

We enjoy late Lauds during retreat, beginning at 8 a.m., then gathering afterward in the dining room for the morning’s conference. Sister Anne’s finches and cardinals pass through dappled sunlight to visit her feeders, wings glinting as they catch the sun’s rays. A vigorous, young river birch waves its leaves in the warm summer breeze just overhead. Abbot John begins. Continue Reading

Quieting into Our Annual Retreat: Monday June 6

Life is very quiet around here this week. We are on retreat, a time of silence and reflection, prayer and rest. A time when we can watch Sister Helen’s velvety pink petunias bob in the warm breeze … listen to the chickadees chatter as they flit from branch to branch … smell a tangle of scents rising off the lake and passing through the brush to the path … a time to sit and do precisely nothing.

But nothing means something profound during retreat. It means opening ourselves to God and God’s work within us. Also, we have help from a wonderful retreat director. Continue Reading