At the monastery, I like to walk around the property on Sunday afternoon to see what has changed since the last time I walked. The close connection to and care for the land we have at Holy Wisdom is something that resonated deeply with me when I was exploring a call to life in our community. I believe that a call comes right out of one’s life. That means that rather than being something extraordinary that drops down from heaven to overwhelm a person, a call grows from the values, characteristics and dreams one has already begun to develop. My desire to care for the earth and feeling connected to God in creation was part of what brought me to our community at Holy Wisdom.
Recently, the sojourners and I were sharing how family had impacted who we are. I thought of my maternal grandparents who, with my mother, taught me an appreciation for the natural environment. Each summer my family visited my grandparents in Belleville, IL, for vacation. One of my favorite memories is walking around their yard in the late afternoon with one of my grandparents to survey the plants and shrubs which they nurtured. When I toured the yard with my grandmother we would stop by the roses to check for aphids or mildew. If the roses were blooming, she would cut a few for the house. On the walk with my grandfather we sized up how the trees had grown since the previous visit. He would show us his latest contraption to keep the squirrels off the bird feeders. As a special treat we got to feed the fish in the pond. The surface of the water churned in frenzy as they snapped up their food.
On our walks I felt the Bermuda grass thick and spongy beneath my feet. As we walked together, I remember my grandmother helping me identify the worried call of “Jenny wren” who nested in the bird house on the back porch. The air was full of smells and sounds that even now remind me of our walks: magnolia blossoms, the sweet gum trees and humid summer evenings filled with the sounds of cicadas. At night the frogs in the pond sang me to sleep.
I recently visited my mother who lives in Florida. We too walked around her yard to check on each of her garden plots. She showed me the plants she had put in since my last visit and noted what needed fertilizing or moving to help it flourish. She told me about new birds that have visited her yard. This year a pair of whistling ducks came to her pond with their duckling. At first she was intrigued by these new ducks. But when they scared the others away with their loud whistling, she felt less than welcoming toward them.
Back home, I participated with many friends of the monastery in the recent prairie seeding day. It is a mystery to me that seeds so small can become such large prairie plants. I look forward to walking around this new section of prairie to watch the plants grow and listen to the birds nesting there.
The wonders of creation are never far from us in our community’s Liturgy of the Hours as well—in the psalms, in many of our hymns and in our prayers, like these words from a recent morning prayer:
“God of the universe, you speak to us in all of creation. Wherever there is truth, beauty, and goodness, may we hear your voice today and recognize the sign of your presence.”
My call to community at Holy Wisdom certainly goes deeper than an appreciation for creation, but our environmental work was an important seed in my call.
Do you recognize seeds God has planted in your life? Are the seeds in some way a call to new life?
Follow this link to read additional blog posts from Lynne in the series titled Building Community.
Thank you for sharing a little bit about the “seeds” of your calling. I was reminded as you were sharing your walks in your grandmother’s garden about my own “profound” undertakings in my grandmother’s garden. I grew up in Chicago. We had trees and grass in the font of the house and a small vegetable garden in the back. There was a small patch of “something” enclosed in a fenced area in the front. As a child I thought these were”weeds” so one day I spent hours clearing them when my grandmother was gone visiting. When she returned she was very upset with me because I uprooted many beautiful perrenials including her cherished roses. I felt terrible and no apology (I felt) would be enough. The good news: I was wrong. My grandmother used that occasion to show me what forgiveness was all about when she accepted my apology, cuddled me in her arms and offered me a piece of her orange that she was enjoying when I approached her that evening (a kind of communion you might say). I know what roses look like and have increased my plant knowledge a “bit” along the way but I am certain I am far from being an independent practitioner in the prairie. Thank you for shaing…I look forward to hearing more about your journey along the way.
Chris, thank you for sharing your story – a wonderful experience of forgiveness and communion!