When asked what first attracted her to Holy Wisdom, oblate and volunteer Phyllis Lobdell shares, “It’s the quiet and contemplative nature. What I was really attracted to when I read about it on the website was the Benedictine spirituality and having a certain rhythm to your life. And also kind of being accountable to a community.” Phyllis was living in Illinois at the time and became a regular retreatant at the monastery. Over time, she got to know the sisters and became an oblate candidate and started thinking to herself, “You know someday I’ll just move up there.” And so she did.
Shortly after moving to Middleton in 2013, Sister Joanne Kollasch invited Phyllis to volunteer. So she took an opening at the reception desk, working Wednesdays from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. In between welcoming visitors and answering phone calls, Phyllis also helped the coworkers put together fundraising materials for the Wisdom Prairie project. “I enjoy being able to relieve a staff member from having to place a thousand stamps or stuff envelopes. There’s this welcoming and appreciation by the coworkers. It helps you feel like you belong, and if you make a mistake, it’s okay. You feel good when you’re helping someone, and then you get to go home at the end of the day!” she laughs.
Phyllis also shares her talents as a qigong instructor each morning with the Ecumenical Center for Clergy Spiritual Renewal (ECCSR) pastors during their annual immersion at Holy Wisdom. Qigong is a practice of coordinated movements, breathing and balance that encourages practitioners to focus internally and manage their thoughts and bodies. A lifelong learner and educator, Phyllis gained certification as a shiatsu practitioner and qigong instructor after retiring from a career that spanned kindergarten classrooms, Air Force training, and federal education standards.
Since 2013, Phyllis has only missed a handful of Wednesdays at the front desk, tracking more than 1,600 hours of volunteering. She also serves on the Oblate Formation Circle and the Beacon of Benedictine Spirituality task force. “When you contribute some little thing, you just feel more a part of it, which has been really valuable to me. Working with others and on these task forces, you learn more about yourself and the monastery and its direction. You get to be a part of something bigger. And as Sister Joanne has often told us in the Oblate community, ‘Benedictine spirituality is not taught, it’s caught.’ So just being here, you get to inhale the Benedictine spirituality; the silence, the joy, the sisters, eating lunch. It’s just nice.”
Thank you, Phyllis!