Oblates are lay men and women, married or single, associated with the monastery who live out the Rule of Benedict in their daily life. We are delighted to begin including blogs from oblates on the monastery blogspot. This week, oblate Walter Jost shares his insights into what it means, at the deepest level, to be an oblate of St. Benedict.
If you would like to know more about the oblate way of life, visit our Web site www.sbm.osb.org or contact the Oblate Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or 320 363 7144.
“We did; you sure you’re OK with that?”
|Oblate Walter Jost|
My wife Ellie and I, Benedictine oblates, attended the 2006 Monastic Institute at St. John’s University; a fellow oblate, Loretta, also attended. She was one of few familiar faces. We gravitated toward one another, found we enjoyed spending time and we birthed a long-lasting friendship.
Each of us was in an oblate group in the metropolitan area; each felt our group had gotten too large. We left those groups and formed our own. (“That is so organic! That’s how small oblate groups are supposed to work and form and change,” our Oblate Director bubbled.)
We spent much time together, even traveled together, and our appreciation of each other grew. Each of us knew the secret to our love was not secret … it was rooted in our spirituality, our love for God, our interior life. A shorthand for this might be, “in our being Benedictine oblates.”
In 2011 Loretta was diagnosed with incurable cancer. She quickly had surgery and eventually began chemo. Ellie’s overnight stays started with Loretta’s chemo treatments, to help were Loretta to get sick. While I missed Ellie both overnight and in the evenings, Loretta was my friend, too; I loved her. She needed Ellie. I’m a Benedictine oblate, as concerned for her well-being as for my own. I did not begrudge Ellie the time she needed, even as the overnights sometimes became two or three in a row.
As Loretta’s cancer progressed, Ellie stayed overnight more often. She noticed Loretta’s trouble managing meds … when, what and how much. After at least one scare that was almost certainly a morphine overdose, our concern for Loretta grew more immediate. So, four days before Christmas 2014, when Ellie came home from Loretta’s, I said, “I thought we agreed you need to be there for her, to help with meds.”
“We did; you sure you’re OK with that?” (I love her for that question!!)
Without knowing precisely what I was agreeing to, I said, “Of course. She’s my friend too.”
Having stayed overnight previously, Ellie didn’t need much more stuff. She packed quickly and left. She didn’t move back until New Year’s Eve a year later.
The year was filled with heartache, of course. Ellie was gone. Loretta was dying, Loretta died. Ellie began her work as executor of Loretta’s will. It was filled with blessings as well. The deepening of their relationship. Loretta’s making sure I knew I was a part of everything. The hospice team. My learning not only how to pray the Office alone but how to enjoy that. Loretta’s friends bringing overflowing love, and food, which they lavishly shared with Ellie and me.
Our relationship was based on our rootedness in God and I could not have thrived under the circumstances without my rootedness in Benedictine spirituality. It provides a way to view and live life.
Walter Jost, OblSB