Winter preparations

Paz Vital, OSB Little notes from a prairie journey, Living in Community 8 Comments

It has been two months since I arrived to Holy Wisdom Monastery. I moved here because I wanted to change. I am not sure if the changing process has already started or not, but I am preparing myself. I am preparing the same way we prepare the land for winter. It is the advent of my life, the expectant waiting and preparing for the new, the birth of a new life.

Colorful sunset against dark outlines of treesThere is a lot of excitement here at the monastery because winter is coming. We finished the work at the garden. First, we cleaned the garden—there are no more tomatoes, zucchini, broccoli, squash, potatoes or bell pepper plants there. Then we took off the garden’s fences. After all there is nothing left that the deer can eat. In the orchard we picked all the apples. Then we prepared the land for winter. We covered the ground under the trees with mulch. The prairie needs a lot of preparation too. We have collected seeds, tons of seed; it is work that needs many hands to be done. And at the prairie seeding day, we spread seeds in a new area, so in the spring the seeds will be ready to grow. Thanks be to God the monastery has a lot of volunteers to help with this job, otherwise it would be almost impossible to do it.

All this winter preparation is completely new for me. In Mexico all I needed to do was to add some sweaters to my wardrobe and I was ready. In Houston I saw snow for the first time in December 2009. For a couple of days the city wore a beautiful white dress. No need to tell that I was freezing. It was really cold for me. So this time I need to take this preparation more seriously. But I am preparing in another way too.

I call this personal preparation, advent. Advent is the time of expectantly waiting and preparing for something. I am preparing myself to get out of La Noche Oscura del Alma or the dark night of my soul or the winter of my soul. Gradually, without being too obvious, I am preparing myself.

I feel safe and protected at Holy Wisdom. The rhythm of the life here helps me in my preparation. Each morning I do lectio divina; I read the psalms and meditate in what God wants to tell me that specific day. The psalms are not easy for me, but I continue reading them each morning. We also pray three times a day and do centering prayer twice a day. Is so difficult for me to stop my thoughts. Many times I need to remind myself: stop thinking, just concentrate on your breath, Paz.

Each time that we pray in the oratory, we sing a hymn, some psalms and a canticle. This would be awesome, if I had a beautiful voice or at least some music literacy. But I do not. Each time that we sing, I get distracted thinking first about the correct pronunciation, then about the meaning of some other words. Finally about the pitch, that is, trying not to mess up the singing of others.

Lynn Lemberger and Paz Vital sitting at the piano for singing lessonsThe sisters ask the sojourners to lead prayer sometimes. This means singing solo—with my voice! Big problem if you have my singing and pronunciation skills, so the sisters offered me music classes with Lynn Lemberger. She is so sweet and so patient with me. Some days, it looks as if I am getting the pitch, but just when we are going to the next line, I get it wrong again. She hasn’t complained, not yet at least. When it was my second time leading prayer, it was not perfect. But nobody complained. Some people even told me that I am improving the pitch. (pictured above: Lynn Lemberger, left, director of worship & music, working with Paz on singing lessons)

Advent is the time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the nativity of Jesus at Christmas. Hopefully this means Jesus will be reborn in me. The preparation is not always easy, but I enjoy each minute here. And the day always follows the night after all.


Read this post in Spanish. Para seguir a paz en español: Preparandome para el Invierno

Read more from Paz in her blog series, Little notes from a prairie journey.

Comments 8

  1. I loved hearing about putting the garden to bed for the winter and the preparations at this time for the prairie. In Tennessee, I am also putting most of the community garden to bed – the exception is the kale that is still growing and will probably make it until the frosts are really hard. I am blessed with a small kitchen garden near the house that still yields salad makings.
    Continuing to pray for you, Paz.
    Anna Kathleen, osb

    1. Dear Anna Kathleen,
      The garden is now sleeping, no even kale is there. We already have some snow here in Wisconsin, and I am enjoying it. Is not cool after all, no now. I will see if I still thinking the same way on February. Thanks for your prays, you are also in mine.

      Blessings, Paz

  2. Wow, Paz! I had no idea it took so much to prepare the land…it sure makes sense that it would take about as much time (or longer) for God to prepare us for something special! If your singing is lacking fear not! Your “blog” makes up for it. I am always blessed by your sharing. Thank you and Come oh come Emmanual for all of us especially those who are wandering the Syrian seas looking for a place to lay their head!

  3. Hi Christine,

    Me either until now, all this land preparation is now and exciting for me.
    Yes, I was thinking also the same, maybe six months is not enough, but is a good start, to prepare myself for something good. Thanks for the cheers, about singing. I don’t know what the people that hear me think, but I start enjoying singing. Something really now for me! Enjoy singing. That doesn’t mean I am doing perfect, not even acceptable.
    Blessing to our Syrian brothers ans sisters.

    Blessings, Paz

  4. Paz,
    What a beautiful analogy about Advent, with the preparation of the land, the soul and the mind. You have given us all something to think about and we are so joyful that you are with us. Do not feel alone when singing as there are others of us who also have no sense of tone or pitch! Wishing you a blessed holiday season in Wisconsin, and yes, it will snow yet this year.

  5. My beautiful friend Paz, I greet you. My passion is gardening and I am glad to see you involved with the Land and the wonders it produces.

    I hope the knowledge of how many people love and admire you (including of course, me) warms your heart and hands (and feet).

    I honor you.

    1. Post

      Dear Barbara, If you visit this place you will love it too. Now, I am gardening too. I am not so good like you but I love doing it. Thank you very much I miss the nice time we spend together talking and visiting museums. Thank you very much. Love, Paz

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