Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Monastic Interreligious Dialogue

There is a group in Benedictine, Cistercian and Trappist circles that does not ever make a big splash, only small ripples. The group is called Monastic Interreligious Dialogue. As the name implies the focus of this group is to foster dialogue between Christian monks and nuns and monks and nuns of the great religions of the East, Buddhism and Hinduism in particular.

A little over a year ago, 14 Christian and Buddhist nuns met at St. Mary Monastery in Rock Island, IL for a weekend of sharing on our respective communal and individual monastic practices. On Friday evening we began with an agenda of topics we were hoping to cover in our time together. By Sunday afternoon we realized that rather than getting shorter our agenda seemed to be getting longer and longer. As we listened to each other with the ears of our hearts we noticed that the perceived barriers between us were crumbling and that we wanted to continue the dialogue. Although we had to leave for our respective monasteries early Monday morning, we decided to continue our conversation via e-mail on a monthly basis which several of us did until the spring.

Several moments of the weekend were particularly moving. On Sunday morning, we all attended Eucharist with the Sisters of St. Mary Monastery and at communion time, every Buddhist nun came forward to receive a blessing from the celebrant. Sunday evening at our closing ritual each Buddhist nun did a chant from her particular tradition which we participated in, and then the Christian monastic women sang the Salve Regina in Latin. Finally, on Monday morning, the first car was leaving at 6:30 a.m. and by 6:15 a.m. we were all gathered in the kitchen to say our goodbyes to each other. One could sense how much we wanted to prolong our time together. In early October of this year, the monastic women who are on the board of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue began planning our next gathering of Buddhist/Christian nuns in 2011. If you would like to read more about Monastic Interreligious Dialogue go to http://www.monasticdialog.com/.

No comments:

Post a Comment