By Mary Chiang, guest of the sisters
I will be leaving June 1, on a plane back to NYC. I need a good head start to say my farewells and want to say thank you for your warm hospitality and resilience to the faith, hope and love of our Lord. I have learned so much here. One lesson is how a binary point of view harms and limits understanding, compassion, and divides people. The life and practice of Benedictine values is a real discipline and I admire every person who devotes themselves to not giving up. It’s so easy to lose it! The beauty of Christ and the good news is that my return to the Lord is all I need to return to. God’s mercy is so great. Now I feel I have some tools to sharpen as I prepare for the next stop on my journey.
The big question remains, “What’s next?” The strange thing is, “I’m still not sure.” And yet, I have much more confidence that I’ll be ok. For my family and sisters who’ve been waiting for my answer, I’m sure they will be so frustrated. They have made all their plans, including where they will retire and what places they want to travel. I used to feel bad that I’m not more like them. But I also realize my priorities and choices have been different and my lifestyle is one who waits and listens for the Lord to lead me. Then I’m off! The promise I’ve been holding onto since March 2021 has been from Isaiah 55:12 “For you will indeed go out with joy and be led forth in peace.” God has given me this peace, and it really transcends my understanding!
I want to pursue justice work against racism in America. This is a big step for me. God allowed me to learn this about myself and He has opened a way through seminary school. Going through the application process with emotional support and the prayers of the sisters and this community with me, I found the starting point of my new journey in America. (Thank you all and thank God!) The details are not certain but the decision is 75% closer to yes, I will trust God to go forward in faith.
I compare my time at Holy Wisdom this winter with the parable of the Mustard Seed. Mark 4:30-32
30 Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”
Holy Wisdom is like this strong tree, and the Sister’s story is humble and strong. To me the practice of humility is the secret to the strength of the mustard seed story. Birds have returned this spring, activated by the cycle of life. Over half of my time here was participating in Lent and Easter, representing for me humility and celebration centered on Christ. I witnessed the cycle of life in the prairie and have made peace with nature in seeing rest and sleep, life and work, courtship (esp among the turkeys!), growth and death. Perhaps the mustard tree is really the Holy Spirit who welcomes us this way, to come, rest, delight, be in God’s presence. It’s the sisters and the whole Holy Wisdom staff and communities of volunteers who work to make it possible to enter into this much needed spiritual rest and restoration. The life of the prairie sings this. It is a miracle to see every hand who makes it possible. It’s in the giving that we too receive. That’s another mystery.
I was a very weary and confused bird when I arrived. After deeply resting in the shade of Holy Wisdom’s tree, I carry on to where the Lord beckons me. Lord willing I will be able to return with new birdsongs to share and celebrate the Lord’s good and mysterious ways with you. I will be at the porter’s desk (monastery building front desk) May 18-19 on Wed-Thursday afternoon and hope you will stop and say “See you next time.” The following week I will be on retreat before heading off. See you next time & zai jian!
With thanksgiving and love,