Sunday, July 24, 2011

(Day 42) continued...

Entrance to the
Monastery 
Sunday.  It was and remains a day of rest.  For the first time in a long time I have sat and read a book cover to cover in one day.

Granted, it was not a large or studious book but it was a powerful book and it drew me in and engaged me in a way that I have not been engaged by a theological book since I read Barbara Brown Taylor's, An Altar in the World.

The book?  One I started reading while I was at Hank Dixon's place, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, by Gregory Boyle.

The book is full of stories of Fr. Boyle meeting the "homies" where they are at and through the stories of his encounters of the spirit at work in the lives of those who choose to change, "the priest begins to articulate a simple theology that speaks deeply to me as I seek to understand more fully my vocation to prison ministry - and life in general...


The story of the
Sister's Sequoia

"Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a covenant between equals. … Compassion is always, at its most authentic, about a shift from the cramped world of self-preoccupation into a more expansive place of fellowship, of true kinship."
"If we choose to stand in the right place, God through us creates a community of resistance without our ever realizing it.  To embrace the strategy of Jesus is to be... engaged in "downward mobility".  Our locating ourselves with those who have been endlessly excluded becomes an act of visible protest... Jesus was always to busy being faithful to worry about success."
The Chapel
"Mother Teresa diagnosed the world's ills in this way: we've just "forgotten that we belong to each other".  Kinship is what happens to us when we refuse to let that happen.  With kinship as the goal, othe essential things fall into place; without it, no justice, no peace."
The above are just a few randomn quotes from the book. a few of the many that had me reading them twice and then three times because they were so simple yet so profound and connected on such a deep level with my experience at the prison.  I kept coming back to Charlie Taylor's catchphrase: "We're more alike then we are different."  At the core of this is compassion.  Compassions fruit is kinship.

Trying to capture the Monastery and Chapel
in one picture.  Note the height of the Sequoia 
At some point in the day - not sure when for I had left my watch in a drawer I went for a walk and took some pictures of the grounds.  It is a beautiful place and the spirit of the place is so restful and calming.  The Sisters are so helpful wanting to make sure I am comfortable and have everything I need.

There are about forty Sisters that live in community here.  Some teach, others are counsellors and spiritual directors, others work on the industries as part of the Monastery and of course some are administrators.  In all of the Sister I have met it is clear to me that they each live daily the mission of their order: "Together we seek God in a balanced life of prayer and work, simplicity, hospitality, and service. While our vow of stability leads us to a special care for the people of the local area, we are deeply conscious of sharing the universal mission of the Church."  Visit their website if you would like a bit more information: The Benedictine Sisters of Mt. Angel.

This evening, on about 5:30PM I walked into the town of Mt. Angel and had supper at a local restaurant.

The building where I am staying.
I have the whole place to myself.
I have another book to read for this evening - one I started last night: A Collection of All of Flannery O'Connor's Short Stories.  I am looking forward to reading some of her earlier and until this book, unpublished works.

...on the Sabbath Road...







A stitched photo trying to capture the size of the Sequoia against the backdrop of the Monastery. 

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