As I see brave spring shoots receiving just the right amount
of light, warmth and moisture to break through the dry, cold soil, the word
“tender” keeps surfacing for me.Everything about spring seems to have a gentle hue.My hibernating winter gaze begins to soften,
as I allow an increasing number of subtle smiles to warm my face. I sometimes
even catch my voice whispering to budding trees and perennial flowers, “You
sweet surprise, you’re lovely. And then I giggle a bit and add, “I see you,
you’re such a delight for my exploring eyes.Thank you.”
The Latin root for tender is “tener” defined as “yielding,
easily broken”.I find myself looking
across the oratory when we sing the Liturgy of the Hours.We sing antiphonally, so one side sings and
then the other.I pray that as I am
attentive to one familiar face at a time, my moistened spring-gaze will imagine
a new aspect of her unique beauty that will reveal itself to me as the day unfolds.
If my heart remains
cold, dry soil I’m tempted to say, “I have her all figured out.I know exactly what she will likely do or
say.” I’ve actually given her the greatest insult I can give her.“Tender moments” acknowledge that each day
she is no longer exactly like she was the day, month or year before. She is
changing and transforming. Hopefully my attentiveness will change my heart too.
I pray that the warmth and light of the Spirit can use this present moment to tenderize
my vision and let my stereotypes be more “easily broken”.Allow me, my unconditionally loving God, to
be surprised each day at discovering hues of beauty in the people that I think
I have “all figured out”.
Friday is Earth Day.We
need to ask forgiveness of our Mother Earth for our communal and individual
abuse of her and therefore of all our brothers and sisters with whom we share
this gift from God to all of us.Let us
pray as we image our holding and embracing Mother Earth just as she holds
“We hold brothers and sisters who suffer from storms and
droughts intensified by climate change.
We hold all species that suffer.
We hold world leaders delegated to make decisions for life.
We pray that the web of life may be mended though courageous actions to limit
We pray that love and wisdom might inspire my actions and our actions as
communities…so that we may with integrity, look in to the eyes of brothers and
sisters and all beings and truthfully say, we are doing our part to care for
them and the future of the children.
May love transform us and our world with new steps toward life.”
April brings with it new
beginnings. Buds appear on trees and flowers start to poke up through the
earth. One new beginning for me was many Aprils ago, in 1981, when I was
accepted as an affiliate at Saint Benedict’s Monastery. As an affiliate I was
beginning the first step into becoming a member of the community. I had written
a letter of request, and I received a letter in return welcoming me as an
affiliate. When I read my letter there was a scripture passage from the prophet
Isaiah inserted into the body of it. This is what the prophet Isaiah had to say
to me on that memorable day.
"Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a
new earth;The things of the past shall not be
remembered or come to mind. Instead, there shall always be rejoicing and
happiness in what I create; for I create Jerusalem to be a joy and its people
to be a delight; I will rejoice in Jerusalem and exult in my people
(Ch.65:17-19) Before they call, I will answer; while they
are yet speaking, I will hearken to them. (vv.24)"
When I came across my letter of
acceptance this past February, I recalled reading the letter for the first
time, and this particular passage from Isaiah. I remember thinking, yes, I was
being created anew and God was/is the creator. God was calling me into new life.
God has continued to call me forth, challenging me to trust and follow. So what
new beginnings may be happening for you in your life at this time? What may God
be asking of you on our own unique journey during this month of new beginnings?
On April 9th we will be hosting a retreat from 9-4 for women: Is God calling you to Religious Life? If
you would like more information please contact Sister Lisa Rose at
I love to spend Triduum* with my community at the
monastery. We have such wonderful, rich liturgies that call me into a
space of deep reflection, sorrow, repentance, wonder and joy.
This year I did not make it up to the monastery
for Triduum because of my resident chaplaincy work at Abbott Northwest
Hospital. I had the opportunity to preside and gather with folks in the
Mental Health Unit for a Good Friday service and time of reflection. As I
prepared my reflection I found myself at a loss to know what to say to those who
would be part of the gathering. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to say or
could not come up with material – it just seemed out of context with these
folks. How do you talk about the cross with patients who have mental
health problems, who daily bear their cross because they are stigmatized,
misunderstood in their suffering, marginalized in our society and often looked
on with disdain? Frankly I was at a loss how to communicate the
suffering of the cross to these patients. In desperation I looked on the
internet for some reflection resources. I couldn’t find much information and
what I did find often felt as if I was trying to put a square block in a round
hole. I was stuck, or at least felt stuck, about how to communicate
the meaning of the cross to these folks who have a deep, anguishing faith
because of their suffering. I found some words from Henri Nouwen on
brokenness and the cross that I tried to reflect on and communicate the following:
“Your broken heart is the source of my salvation, the
foundation of my hope, the cause of my love. It is the sacred place where all
that was, is and ever shall be is held in unity. There all suffering has been
suffered, all anguish lived, all loneliness endured, all abandonment felt and
all agony cried out. There, human and divine love have kissed, and there God
and all men and women of history are reconciled. All the tears of the human
race have been cried there, all pain understood and all despair touched.
Together with all people of all times, I look up to you whom they have pierced,
and I gradually come to know what it means to be part of your body and your
blood, what it means to be human.”
We broke bread together in the solidarity of our brokenness
and suffering and Jesus’ love for us shown on the cross. I want to
fully acknowledge that I truly do not understand completely my brokenness as
these folks understand their brokenness. Their brokenness and willingness
to embrace the cross of Christ and claim it as Good Friday haunts my soul in
mystery. This Good Friday service impacted my sense of suffering and the meaning
of the cross. I still don’t fully comprehend the cross, but I have
experienced a whole new sense of the cross – and it causes me to tremble,
*The Triduum (a Latin
term meaning ‘three days in one’), stretches for the Mass of the Lord’s supper
on Holy Thursday to sundown on Easter Sunday.
This blog is maintained by a group of Sisters at Saint Benedict's Monastery in St. Joseph, Minnesota. We try to post weekly and often succeed at that.
The opinions on this blog belong to individual writers and do not reflect any official position of the monastery. Please feel free to comment on any of the entries-- comments are moderated, but we'll publish any reasonable comment.