“This is the biggest crop I’ve seen at Holy Wisdom,” Sister Lynne Smith said, referring to the unusually huge bounty of apples from the orchards this year. But she could easily have been talking about this year’s bumper crop of Benedictine Sojourners—six strong, so far.
Fall is the season of harvest. But being from New York City, I can forget that food doesn’t grow in the produce aisle of the grocery store! Detached from the slow work of the seasons, I have been surprised by the flurry of activity that must take place as fruit and vegetables ripen in the monastery gardens and seeds fall from the blossoms of the surrounding prairies. But as one of the newest of the Benedictine Sojourners, I’ve had a frontline view of all the work that goes on here during harvest season.
One of my first tasks when I arrived at the monastery last week was helping to bring in the crop. Reaching between sunlit branches in the orchards, the trees were heavy with apples that fell into my waiting hands. Wading into the acres of long grasses of the prairie, I clipped the tiny seeds of former flowers with care. Each seed would eventually become part of the Wisdom Prairie Project, a plan that reflects the community’s dedication to care for the earth by restoring a neighboring cornfield to the prairie it had been years before.
As I worked alongside other volunteers in the autumn air, I felt the glad echo in my heart of Jesus’ words in John 4:
“Now the Sower is arm in arm with the Harvester, triumphant. That’s the truth of the saying, ‘This one sows, that one harvests.’ I sent you to harvest a field you never worked. Without lifting a finger, you have walked in on a field worked long and hard by others.” (The Message)
The apples I was gathering by the armfuls, the tiny prairie seeds rattling in their pods that I was collecting for future sowing, the songs and prayers of the Benedictine Women of Madison that I join in each day—all are part of a harvest that I did not sow, a field that I have “walked in on.” In the generous blessing and partnership of Benedictine community life, I am linked “arm in arm” with Christ and all the workers of the field: past, present and future. This realization has been a source of deep joy and peace as I begin my life as a sojourner.
When I packed up my things and left my cherished work as pastor of contemplative arts at New Life Fellowship Church in New York City, I did not know what God was calling me toward. I only knew that I heard the Voice of my Beloved clearly, and that I wanted to follow—even if it meant going out into the unknown prairies of Wisconsin, living closely in a community of women that I did not yet know, doing work that I could not fully fathom, while praying and singing words I only dimly grasp.
In many ways, I am still “arriving.” My body and my physical belongings are here, but I am still adjusting to the rhythms of prayer and work and relationships at the monastery. It will take time to settle in here. But I trust the slow work of the seasons, and I am comforted by the blessing of being here, now—in a time of harvest.
Rosy Kandathil is thrilled to be one of the newest members of the Benedictine Sojourners. She worked as a public defender with the Legal Aid Society for seven years before taking a sabbatical, and then worked as a Pastor of Contemplative Arts with New Life Fellowship Church in New York City, expanding opportunities for silence, prayer and art in her church community. She is fond of chocolate, coconut and cheese. Her personal goal is to try a new cheese every week while here in Wisconsin!
Be sure to follow Rosy’s future postsin her series: A Benedictine Sojourner’s Journey.
I appreciated the phrase, “I am still arriving” that says a LOT
Growing up on a farm in Maine the first thing that comes to my mind is …. winter is coming !! Be blessed our hearts and prayers are with you…
Thanks, Peter! You caught the sense of “in-between” that I’m living into. Winter is indeed coming (as all the native Wisconsin-ites enjoy reminding me). I’m told New York winters have nothing on the cold that I’ll experience out here. Appreciate the prayers!
i shouldn’t be surprised by 1) how beautifully you write and 2) how each time i think i’ve “arrived” because i figured out some small nugget or made a clear decision to set me on one path, i learn that life is not so clear cut. I really appreciated this notion of “still arriving” even when it seems like you’ve already arrived. excited to read more about your journey!
Thanks, Jihee. Great to hear from you! What a wonderful insight into the “ever-arriving” mystery of our lives. I appreciate your journeying with me through this year. Seeing companions on the road is a great encouragement to keep exploring what I don’t understand but long for all the same. Here’s to traveling with an open heart!
Praying for you and I miss you!
Thanks, Sheena! Looking forward to seeing you at NLF in December. 🙂