Finding One’s Center

Trish Stefanik A Benedictine Sojourner's View, Living in Community, Monastic Life Leave a Comment

finding one's center croppedA lot is going on. Apple picking, to start. We’re harvesting about 200 bushels compared to 27 last year.  Then there is prairie seed collection for a new restoration project next year. As with the apples, sojourners are helping to coordinate volunteers in this small fall window of seed harvest. We are also putting the garden to bed – gathering the last crops of butternut squash and greens, removing and straightening tomato cages for storage, pulling out the woody stalks of spent plants and making ready for a winter cover of rye.

In addition, the monastery is hosting a number of fall retreats and personal retreatants, weddings and baptisms, an art exhibit, Taizé prayer and a series of Sunday Assembly presentations about social justice and community service opportunities. Planning meetings are in full swing for 2014 spirituality programs, the continuing Wisdom Prairie Project, the annual Holiday Fair & Angel Tea, and a renewed Children’s Ministry as part of the Sunday Assembly community. The sojourners are meeting regularly to plan this year’s Advent retreat, From Scurrying to Stillness: Sharing a Day in Advent, December 14, 2013, 8:30 am – 4:00 pm. At the same time we continue to build community and strengthen our relationship with each other through intentional study and sharing. These times have included sessions on the Enneagram, conscious communication, circle process and family of origin.

I am grateful for the activity, especially its variety and the gift of so many different people connecting with the mission and work of Holy Wisdom. And as so much flows in and out of our doors, across our desks and around the grounds, I am particularly grateful for the rhythm of prayer day after day that calls us, calls me to a central place of stillness, reception and energy. Whatever I do, I am meant to give God glory. Whomever I meet, I am meant to receive as Christ. However I feel or whatever situation I find myself in, I am meant to desire God’s presence.

Who am I to say really, to know in my limited body and mind, the immensity and intimacy of God. But like Thomas Merton, I pray that I have the desire to please God, and that I have that desire in all I am doing. I pray the spirituality of the Prologue to the Rule of Benedict as summed up by Joan Chittister, OSB: “Listen. Wake up. Do no harm. Do good. Trust in God. Prepare your heart and your body. Learn every day of your life.”  Wise counsel I think.

Every morning, most often before dawn, I sit alone in my room in quiet prayer. The house is under the Great Silence of monastic life whereby we keep silent from sometime the previous evening until we open our lips in praise together at morning prayer. I am seeking to “prepare my heart and body” to meet another day, which I cannot take for granted. I do some yoga stretches, read poetry and Scripture, think about those I love and those I am called to love. I offer prayers of thanksgiving and hope for the day. But mostly I cherish the Silence, which Sister Mary David says, “gives the soul space to breathe.”

In that same vein, the monastery community gathers in the Silence for 20 minutes of centering prayer each morning and evening. Appropriate bookends, I believe, to a life that is pure gift.

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Trish’s previous blog posts can be found at:  Living in Community – A Benedictine Sojourner’s View

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