What is your day like? This is the primary question I get from folks as they learn that I am a “Benedictine Sojourner.” So, here’s a snapshot. The big picture is that every day is framed by prayer in community: morning prayer, midday prayer and evening prayer. These periods, the Liturgy of the Hours, include sung and recited psalms, hymns, readings from Scripture and other writings, intercessory prayer and silence. Joined to these in the morning and evening is Centering Prayer, wordless prayer in the presence of God.
Even before our gathered prayer in the morning, I spend time in silence and solitude, often with a poem, Scripture and other spiritual reading. In my last blog post I describe the prayer that happens as I make my way through the prairie to the oratory. (See All in Time, Part I).
There are two work periods during the day, morning and afternoon, when I contribute to the smooth running and welcoming environment of the monastery (I pray) and use my gifts for the common good (again, I pray). My service so far includes dishes, writing, design and gardening. Late afternoon is time set aside for reading and classes on Benedictine spirituality. Evenings are free for leisure and rest.
What the framework of the Liturgy of the Hours does for me is ground me in who I am as beloved of God and in my purpose to seek God – day after day. No matter what I do in particular. One weekend I am washing unending dishes from a filled-to-capacity retreat, while in between I am listening to retreat leader James Finley talk about transcending the ego and surrendering to an Infinite Love. One morning I am reflecting with the sisters on spiritual writer Esther de Waal’s description of our baptismal vows to put on Christ, and within the hour I am pulling at stubborn dandelion roots in the asparagus garden. Another day l am singing about the Great Artist of the Universe, and later I’m taking food scraps to the compost bin.
Interesting mix. And how interesting that within a fairly scheduled and segmented day I am experiencing a spaciousness that pretty much allows me to do what I need to do, and more, live into who I want to be. For Benedict, the balance of prayer-work-study-leisure is key, as well as perspective – “nothing is to be preferred to the Work of God.” The way I see it, what matters is that I try to approach everything with a certain kind of spirit – I pray.
Glory be to our Creator, to our Redeemer Jesus Christ,
and to the Spirit of Life,
who dwells in our midst now and forever.
~ from the Liturgy of the Hours
Benedictine Women of Madison