Sunday, April 11, 2010
Three years ago, with community, family and friends watching, I made a three year profession to God of stability, obedience and conversatio (fidelity to the monastic way of life). Last night, in a simple ceremony before the sisters of my community, I renewed this temporary monastic profession. In the hours before this ceremony, I suffered greatly from the proverbial "cold feet." Do I really want to sign away another three years of my life? Can't I live a good, Christian life without spending the next three years in this monastery? What if I change my mind and don't want to do this anymore? Monastic life has never been easy for me, wouldn't it be simpler to quit now? Doubt washed over me and fear struck deep at my core.
And then... the church bells rang. The bells that have rung three times a day, every day of these last three years. The bells that call us all to stop what we're doing and make our way to prayer. Those bells pulled me out of my fear and I followed all of my sisters down the long hallway to our church. I stood in the Blessed Virgin Room, a small room just outside of the church where the community gathers every Saturday evening. I stood in that room and watched the rest of my sisters gather. Some offered hugs, some even broke the silence to offer a simple word of encouragement. Most just lined up, awaiting the call to prayer that is so much a part of our lives.
There, standing in that ever familiar room, the schola intoned the first notes of the call to prayer and the community joined, just as they have for the last three years of my professed life, as they have for the last 143 years of our community life, as they have for the last 1,500 years of Benedictine life. And in that moment, as our voices were joined as one in our prayer to God, I truly was renewed. The doubt that overtook me washed away and the call of God returned to my heart. This community is a part of me just as I am a part of it. Through all of the struggles, the pain, the arguments, the loss that we have endured, we continue to strive together to discover God in the every day. I could not imagine walking any other path.
I was blessed last night to stand before God and the saints and the sisters of Monastery Immaculate Conception and renew my monastic profession. But I was even more blessed that God renewed the call within me.