My dear friends,
In keeping with my posts from Alaska, I want to write to you in the format of letters, trying to speak as if I were sitting across the kitchen table, looking at you. I should mention that I will be posting less frequently, and that really the best way to get in touch with me will be either through snail mail or email (you can use the contact form on this website as well). Please do not take offense that my replies may be a long time in the coming – I will not be checking correspondence every day. This is a year to step away from some of the noise, including technology. For me, letters take more time and are therefore more intentional – if you would like to go deeper, let’s write!
What will this year bring? I will do my best to share with you a glimpse into some of what I see and feel and experience here, though I am sure there will always be those experiences which stretch beyond words.
Since moving into the convent house at the Community of the Beatitudes, I have felt an interior peace and stillness which feels a little like a storm clearing or a fever breaking. There is a feeling of surrender about this year; I have no desire to know ahead of time what each day will bring. The unfolding of the present moment of today is captivating enough; I only want to be available to it.
I could tell you all kinds of details about my days in Denver before moving into the convent, but they don’t seem quite so important. What I will say is that they were blessed. I felt like a little wanderer – each day I packed my backpack and journeyed downtown, visiting a few of my favorite spots but mostly just following my feet and the flow of the day. In a way it was like a mini pilgrimage between moving from Juneau and starting my year with the Community; I packed simply and was determined to be open to the unexpected encounters which would cross my path and change my plans. This did happen; unexpected friends made at the Denver art museum, strangers met on street corners, last minute decisions to take long walks which led into new neighborhoods and new discoveries.
Denver is a beautiful city, but by the time move-in day rolled around, I was ready to unpack my couple of bags and settle into my sweet little room.
Piece by piece, the details of the rhythm of my life are unfolding. For starters, the schedule of our time here is so intentional; each component of life has its own time and place. Each week we have specific times set aside for correspondence, exercise, and personal projects. I wondered if this might feel restrictive, but I’ve actually found the complete opposite. Because I know that each of my priorities has its own time, I find more freedom to be totally engaged with whatever task is at hand, without guilt or worry about my other duties or projects. There is a peace and a balance in my daily life during this year, and I can’t wait to see what I learn by living a whole year in this way.
It is a year of service, and our service is often found in hidden and small acts of charity. This is something which I particularly love. It is in these small, behind-the-scenes, simple actions that challenge me to lay down my ego; they are acts of service done without any expectation of recognition, simply for the love and for the care of the other. Those of us doing this year are not really assigned any one specific ministry, but rather try to greet each day with open hands to receive the needs of our brothers and sisters and of the poor we encounter. Whether they are poor materially, emotionally, or spiritually, it does not matter – we give what we can. It is a gift to live in simplicity; it gives us a the interior space and availability to walk with those who are so small in the eyes of our society. The bigger our pride, the harder it is to look at another with love.
And community life is so joyful! Three days in and we’ve already danced in the church parking lot at night (Israeli dances – it’s another story for another time) as well as shared insights and laughter, cooked beautiful meals, played music, praised, ventured into the mountains for hikes…
It is this kind of living that almost doesn’t feel real. True, there are moments of challenge, moments where we feel like a failure, where we get on one another’s nerves, but for some reason it does not damper our home or our joy.
Speaking of joy, here’s a list of some of my little joys from the past week (because you know me, I can’t get through a letter without writing a list):
- Pumpkin patches all over my neighborhood
- Lavender that grows tall and spills onto the sidewalk
- The smell of challah baking in the convent
- My bedroom view into the garden
- Peanut butter and banana oatmeal
- Handing food to someone who is hungry
- Night walks with the sisters
- Teaching embarrassed middle-schoolers how to do Israeli dancing
With much love,
Some pictures of my Denver days, little art experiments, etc…