Thursday, April 6, 2017

On Being

Benedictine Women Service Corps (BWSC), an outreach of Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, Minn., invites College of Saint Benedict alumnae to join the monastic community in deepening relationships that support justice and service in a new location. Volunteers strive to live out the Benedictine Gospel values that were formed during their undergraduate education in a capacity that will challenge them personally, spiritually and professionally.

This week's BLOG is written by Erin Carey

Some flowers that are trying to say "hello."
There are many signs of spring around the Mount.
(Photo submitted by Erin Carey)
Every Wednesday, I have a ‘reflection day”. A reflection day is a day when you don’t go into work, you take time to reflect and collect all the experiences from the past week, and you do things that refresh you. The people in formation (novices and postulants) and other volunteers also take these days at some point during the week. Some things I do on my reflection day include getting outside by running or going for a walk, reading, journaling, and playing piano. In reality, reflection days are sometimes the busiest days of my week because it becomes a day for meeting with people and getting things done that I have been putting off. But there is an intentionality there to keep it as open as possible to take time to pull experiences together.
Relaxing into this new rhythm of life was admittedly difficult. I felt like I was not being productive. I had no tangible signs of progress for the day. Coming from the ever-busy culture of high school and college, this rhythm of taking time to reflect and recollect was (and still is) a little foreign. Allowing myself to be comfortable simply ‘being’ instead of ‘doing’ is an ongoing transition.

As the community journeys through Lent, we are reading and discussing the book “An Altar in the World” by Barbara Brown Taylor. In it, she outlines spiritual practices that awaken people to the presence of God in the everyday: practices of wearing skin, saying no, walking on the earth, experiencing pain, and others. In the chapter on taking Sabbath she quotes the Jewish prayer “Welcoming Sabbath.”
Our noisy day has now descended with the sun beyond our sight.
In the silence of our praying place we close the door upon the hectic joys and fears, the accomplishments and anguish of the week we have left behind.
What was but moments ago the substance of our life has become a memory; what we did must now be woven into what we are.
On this day we shall not do, but be.


We are to walk the path of our humanity, no longer ride unseeing through a world we do not touch and only vaguely sense.

No longer can we tear the world apart to make our fire.
On this day heat and warmth and light must come from deep within ourselves.
Reflection days are all about weaving experiences into who I am becoming. Barbara Brown Taylor asks the question: “Why are we so reluctant to go?” Why are we so reluctant to be instead of do? It is hard work and probably why I avoid the work by trying to fill the days with endless business. It also is work without an end, which is daunting! During Lent, I’ve tried to be more conscious of how I spend my time on reflection days and on Sundays.

A recent Sabbath practice:
Pizza from scratch with Sister Val!
(Photo submitted by Erin Carey)
This new way of being is also present at Saint Benedict’s and at the Art House. Recently, I’ve seen my role in both ministries as more of a service of presence with people. I help people with tangible skills and we make progress at both places, but underneath it is much more a ministry of being. There was a young man from Syria in class for the past few months. We never worked together because his English was better than most and he was out often interviewing for jobs; however, we saw each other every morning and simply said “hello.” Last week, he got a job in a factory and he was ecstatic. He came up to say goodbye, and shaking my hand he got a little teary and said, “Thank you, teacher.” It was touching. We hadn’t worked together, we had nothing to do with each other but we were graced with the opportunity to be with each other. I think we were both just grateful for the presence of the other around the classroom. It is freeing to know that, while I can do everything in my power to help the refugees and the kids at the Art House, there is only so much I can do. Presence, being and relationship are the ways of service I hope to provide.
Thank you all for the prayers and support. It’s hard to believe it’s almost May! Happy spring!


1 comment:

  1. Happy Spring! Loved reading this blog! Blessings ��