Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Southern Girl in a Minnesota World

S. Tammy on Profession Day by S. Nancy Bauer

I am Tammy Shoemaker and I just made my first profession on July 11 of this year; it was a very beautiful moment with my sisters and my mom and some friends attending my ceremony. One of the things I like about the fact that nearly all of us make our profession on July 11, the Feast of our founder St. Benedict, is that it is probably going to be a very warm day!
I would like to share my first experience of visiting the monastery in Minnesota with you. It was January of 2009. I woke up early to catch my plane on a rainy day in Louisville with the temperature on my window thermometer registering at a very cold 47 degrees. Okay, don’t laugh! That was pretty cold for winter in my opinion.   

I caught my plane out of Louisville, Ky. (my hometown) and flew into Minneapolis, Minn. My final destination would be in St. Cloud, Minn., where the vocation director was going to pick me up. I can’t recall how long my wait was to get on the plane to St. Cloud, but what I do remember is the size of the snow piles from the airport runway. I just couldn’t believe it. Now it wasn’t like we didn’t have snow in Louisville, but we would have to scrape all of Louisville to get a pile as high as the one I saw at the airport that day.  

The most interesting thing was flying into St. Cloud. You had to go out on the runway to get on this small plane where they actually had to place the three of us taking the flight in certain seats to make the plane work properly. Needless to say I was a little frightened, not having had this kind of a flight before. As I said there were three of us on the plane and so our attendant was very attentive to each of us, asking if we were comfortable, where we were from, etc. Trying to be relaxed, I'm looking out the small window of the plane when I hear what sounds like rain falling on our plane. I must have had a puzzled look on my face because one of the passengers looks at me and says, “I heard you say you were from Louisville. Don’t worry, they are just de-icing the plane!!”  Well this is something new for me. As we sat there a bit longer I inquired, “Well that is good I suppose, but who de-ices us when we start flying?” Now she had the puzzled look on her face.   

We start our short trip to St. Cloud and soon we arrive and I hear the pilot announce, “We are now descending into St. Cloud were the temperature is NEGATIVE 18 degrees!!” So the temperature just dropped 63 degrees from where I came from. There was more snow than I have ever seen. 

While it was a cold I have never experienced, the sisters' warm spirit kept me coming back. I entered community in 2013 and that winter was my first experience with a wind chill factor of NEGATIVE 40 degrees. I told God that it really was uninhabitable for me. And if I were to stay things would have to change. But there is a gift in everything. Since being here, I have been ice fishing, snow skiing on real snow, snow shoeing and walked across a lake to a chapel. I have learned about sun dogs and how to dress in many layers. And a good thing I love hats! I am going into my third winter now and while I have to say I would choose 90+ degree temperature over the cold any day of the year, I have learned to appreciate the beauty of the snow.    

Tammy Shoemaker, OSB

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