Welcome to our Annual Summer Retreat, posted here as a mini-online retreat for you. As the woman at the well went at noon to be refreshed and gather water for the day, so we must return readily to our own Divine wellspring. Our time together will provide an opportunity to drink fully from the well that is Benedictine Spirituality.
By Benedictine Sisters Mary Core and Stefanie MacDonald
How much of your “stuff” do you really need? If you’re like most of us, probably very little. But there it is, anyway, cluttering, filling and overflowing your life:
There’s the trinket you bought at the mall, for 50% off. There’s the box of notecards you couldn’t resist but haven’t used, taking up space in your desk drawer. There’s the closet full of clothes you haven’t worn in years.
Too much stuff weighs us down.
Instead of enriching us, it impoverishes us with its demands on our time, our psyches and our consciences:
You can’t find your other shoe! (It’s under the mound of shoes that you don’t ever wear.) You can’t decide which – insert item – to use. (If you only had one, you wouldn’t worry about it.) You really should give – insert item – away, because you never use it. (You feel guilty, but can’t bring yourself to do it.)
Less stuff = More freedom. It’s a simple formula, known by Catholic Sisters everywhere. We call it “poverty.”
It means being in right relationship with material goods. It does not mean being impoverished.
It calls for careful discernment between wants and needs. Do you need those notecards? No. You have plenty. But they’re 50% off! That doesn’t change the answer to the key question of need.
That said, it’s okay to get things we want sometimes! They can brighten our spirits! (And, in doing so, they can indeed satisfy a need.)
Choosing poverty is also about not being overly attached to our material goods. To willingly give and share. After all, we are only stewards of our things: homes, cars, shoes. Someone else will have them someday.
Benedictines practice poverty. We hold everything in common, meaning that everything we have is there for the use of everyone. We have all we need … and all we desire.
So, look around. What can you do without? What can you give away or share? Start small, and feel the weight of your spirit begin to lighten!