Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Listening Heart

Next weekend, we elect a new prioress for Saint Benedict’s Monastery. We follow a process called “discernment,” a special mode of listening to God, self, others and history/life experience. It isn’t easy to describe, but here is a sneak peek.

For months before this event, we prayerfully ponder and then publicly discuss in detail what we deeply care about as our monastic community moves into the future. This happens at our regular Chapter meetings attended by approximately 200 Sisters, with other Sisters Skyping their comments and/or praying for the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Within the Chapter meetings, we watch our treasured Benedictine way of life come into focus and see both unique internal movements and emerging outreach potential revealed. Based on that information, we identify qualities that individual candidates possess which might lead us into our dreams for the future.

All the while we are called to a special mode of listening as monastics. The Prologue to the Rule of Benedict invites us to “Listen with the ear of your heart.” So each Sister prayerfully prepares her heart to be:

  • INTRIGUED by differences, instead of divided by judgment of the other
  • Poised to VALUE each perspective, hers and others
  • SURPRISED by the possible, instead of enumerating problems
  • Attentively LED by the Spirit when acknowledging what challenges her
  • TAUGHT by each speaker, because we are all equals.

All Sisters present at the Election Chapter, February 25-27(28) will cast their votes after having heard each candidate describe her leadership strengths as well as her personal challenges. The Sister receiving a 2/3 majority will be installed as the new Prioress on Sunday, June 5, 2011. Thank you for joining your “listening heart” prayers to ours during this time.

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