Sunday, November 6, 2016

Cloud of Witnesses and a Garden Update

Our newest Poor Clare Saint in the making:
Aspirant Casey joined us Oct. 4,
feast of St. Francis
One of the most cherished of our Poor Clare family customs is the display of holy cards depicting the multitude of saints in our Chapter Room on the feast of All Saints.  Last week, as I walked into the room and beheld this token of the “cloud of witnesses” who “spur us on to victory”, I was reminded of another experience that took place nearly twenty years ago at our ground blessing ceremony.  We had just purchased the land for our new monastery and our abbess designed a very creative ritual for the dedication of this piece of earth to the service of God.  All of our friends, both cleric and lay, Catholic and non –Catholic, were invited.  The rubrics included a procession that began on the bridge spanning a narrow dam on Goddins Pond following a short ecumenical prayer service.  Each of the Sisters obtained water from the pond to be used at the blessing and carried it in a bucket to our property about a half mile away.  In our free hand we held our music.  Knowing that some of our elder Sisters and many of our benefactors would not be able to do the long walk, it was arranged that all who wished could make the journey by car ahead of time and greet the walking pilgrims as they came to the site of our future monastery.
Chapter Room altar decorated with our patron Saints
I shall never forget that trek up the rural lane that was to be our new street address.  I was well occupied in managing my bucket of water, my music and my voice, as well as keeping an eye on the people with whom I was processing, particularly one of our brave elders who was beside me, walking with a bit of difficulty and trying not to show it.  Eventually we made it to the property and then the challenge became even greater as we turned from the asphalt onto a rough loggers’ dirt road.  Then I was fully engaged, watching  my feet in addition to my other concerns.  I must admit that there was not a whole lot of conscious attention to prayer going on in my heart! But suddenly, the road opened up into a large, open space where literally hundreds of people were waiting for us, clapping, cheering us on, joyful that we had “made it”, and at last were joining their company to praise the God who had made it all possible.  At that moment, in a flash of spiritual insight, I imagined that this is what it must be like to enter heaven, being greeted by all the saints who have been waiting for us and praying for our perseverance along the path of our earthly life.

Our present journey is often like that pilgrim walk to our monastery.  We are occupied with our tasks, our prayer, and those who walk beside us, especially those  needing our service and our love.  Juggling the various demands of life can seem overwhelming at times, but we are not alone.  We have friends who have gone before us and who cheer us on, as well as the grace of our Heavenly Father who draws us all to Himself through the sacrifice of His Son, in the enduring love of the Holy Spirit.

Garden Update:
Sweet Potato Harvest
As autumn progresses, the days grow shorter and colder, we think of the dying year and our own life’s ending, so our vegetable garden has put aside its summer flourishing.  Now is the time for harvesting the fall crops.  Last week we brought in the sweet potatoes. 
7 Pounder to the Right!  One Sister said it looks like a sleeping dog.
Some were incredibly large and very curiously shaped.  One weighed in at 7 lbs!  In a few weeks the southern peas will be ready and we pray the frost hold s off until the seeds rattle in their pods like the book says they ought!  This is the first year for growing them so we have to rely on “book knowledge” at this point.  We will let you know how the harvest went next month!  Meanwhile, we pray for our upcoming elections and God’s mercy upon our nation.