In September of 1996, I read two ads and an article about the new ecumenical Benedictine women’s community, Benedictine Women of Madison, Wisconsin. By the time I saw the third ad welcoming women of any Christian denomination to join, I thought, “That means me. I have to check this out.” That’s how my journey in Benedictine life began. After months of visits and discernment with the sisters, I came to the monastery in June of 1998 and made first profession two years later.
Benedict begins his Rule “Listen carefully, my child, to my instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart.” For me, living according to the Rule of Benedict has become a journey of the heart. I have been blessed with many educational opportunities in my life that have taught me well how to use my mind. Now, for me, the way of continuing conversion is through my heart.
The Liturgy of the Hours was the first thing that spoke to my heart here and it continues to do so. The psalm tones and antiphons echo in my heart throughout the day. One of the antiphons we use at Holy Wisdom Monastery is “O God you love truth in the heart, so in the secret of my heart, teach me wisdom.” For much of my life I sought to live from the wisdom of my head. Monastic life is teaching me that my heart is a surer guide to God. In this conversion of heart God is leading me to pay more attention to the emotions as a source of wisdom. When I listen with the ear of my heart, I experience the divine love that enfolds all of life and am led to pray “with tears and heartfelt devotion.” (Rule of Benedict 52.4)
Walking on the prairie or sitting next to the lake tunes my heart to the divine beauty that orders all things well without my needing to be in control. Admitting my faults humbles my heart and moves me to trust in God’s goodness rather than my abilities for my sense of self. At the monastery I have found my heart’s home.