My experience exploring Benedictine Sojourners

Denise West, OSB Benedictine Bridge, Far from home, Living in Community 1 Comment


Working in the dish room: Denise (far right) and fellow retreatants Paz (left) and Linda (center).

What might you experience in the process of exploring our Benedictine Sojourner program?
Denise, who will become a Benedictine Sojourner this fall, reflects on her journey:

Originally I was just looking for a one- or two-month stay at a monastery over the summer.

Instead, I found the Benedictine Sojourner program at Holy Wisdom and knew instantly that I wanted to find out more. I sensed from the website that this was a vibrant community—alive with a spirit I longed to feel.

Over the Exploring Benedictine Community Retreat weekend I was of course a little anxious. But I felt very at ease when we sat together and talked about personal journeys and our families of origin. I loved that the sisters themselves shared their experiences; it conveyed a sense of equality that was very moving. I did feel something calling to me—that this place had the promise of God’s love and healing, and I felt drawn to the community.

I loved that we had work to do over that weekend—helping with the cleaning after dinner and washing the dishes. It felt good to be useful. I continued to feel quite certain that the Sojourner program was a good fit for me.

The two-week stay following this retreat was important. I had never been in an environment with such a set schedule determining where you need to be many times during the day. I found it challenging but also nurturing. The sense of everyone showing up was deeply meaningful to me. I loved knowing that I would see all the women in the community every time we prayed and every time we ate.

One thing that struck me was that we all had responsibilities, but nobody came along checking up on us. I felt accountable to the community but not judged by the community. This is a big gift of the community—that what surrounds us is love and acceptance, not criticism or judgment. There is space to just BE and to be known and appreciated.

Another thing that calls me to be at Holy Wisdom Monastery is a sense that people’s needs are respected and that the sisters who live there understand and accept themselves. It feels like people are all living in reality, not in a world of projections by other people. What better place for me to learn who I really am than in a place where people will let me just be me, and accept me, and not expect me to put on a show or be my very best self all the time.

I think that last bit is what my hope is for the six months as a sojourner—to know myself better, to accept myself more fully. As an extension I expect I will be able to know God and to accept others as they are.

Learn more about Exploring Benedictine Sojourner Retreats

This post, written just before Denise arrived at Holy Wisdom Monastery, precedes a series Denise has titled Far from home. To read all of her posts, go to:  Far from home.

Comments 1

  1. Denise, I am touched by your words and observations. They convey a real sense of surrendering and slowing down in the midst of new schedules and accountabilities. Slowing down enough to ask questions of oneself and being okay with not having the answers yet. I hope these next months bring you a new sense of self and peace.

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