Sunday, November 16, 2008

Somehow You Get Through It

I'm late this week. If you've seen our web page or CNN news you know why - on Thursday night/Friday morning our Mount Calvary Monastery in Santa Barbara burned to the ground in the fires that consumed a good many homes in that area. So this won't be long, and you will understand why. But I thought I'd put a few thoughts and feelings out.

Mount Calvary has been a part of our life for more than 80 years. It has been a spiritual refuge for thousands of people. For many folks it is a fact of life - a place that will always be there for refuge and comfort. And it has been part of us, as a community, It's part of the Holy Cross identity. That beautiful place on top of a hill with an unmatched view of the Pacific coast was what many people thought of as Holy Cross, and what lots of us thought of as Holy Cross, and now it's gone.

Friday was for shock. Saturday was for grief - and at times in the early part of the day it was so intense that I wasn't sure I would be able to stand up. Today (Sunday) was for exhaustion.

And through all of this, Friday - Sunday, I was conducting a meditation retreat with my friend Mary Gates! It was lunacy to think I could even think of doing it. But I did, and it was good. There was a particularly rich, diverse and interesting group of people, and they put a lot of work and energy into their participation. It was great. When it finished at noon I was finally free to know what I was feeling, and I wondered how I had managed. I still don't know.

Monday will be for hiding out. I need to sleep. I need to rest. I need to lick some wounds. I need to look at the river.

Now we have a lot of thinking, and talking, and planning and meeting to do before we know what lies ahead. Many people assume that we will rebuild as quickly as we possibly can, but it isn't as simple as that. We need to take time to see what we want for the future of our community and where we are being led. We need to discern the way forward. We need to hear the still, small voice that will tell us where the way is.

It is very painful, but the way of God sometimes is painful. One thing I know, we are a good, solid, and very much alive community. We will know the way when we find it.


Suzanne said...

Know that there are thousands of us holding you up in prayer and love, weighted with our own grief, that grief giving substance to those prayers and that love. Suzanne Guthrie

carolyn said...

My prayers are with you. My cat just felt my energy and came to my lap to pray with me. I was so moved and gripped by my love of your community, that when I offered communal prayers in church I forgot to include all others in the Santa Barbara and LA fires. I do so now. I wish light and comfort as the community discerns so many things.

C. Elsworth said...

A good friend reminded me that Father Huntington is raising his hands in intercession along with me and many who are holding you in love in prayer at this hard time. I just can't begin to imagine what this must be like. Thanks for posting and letting us know about where you're at.

Felicity Pickup said...

Thanks for finding some minutes and energy for explaining to us what it's like.

MikeF said...

My prayers are with you too, and with the whole community. May God's arms hold you very close through this pain and loss, and may his Spirit show you the way very clearly, each day and for the future.

Peace and all good


Nia said...

I am so sorry to hear this. Are the monks from that monastery safe?

Asmodeus said...

I have heard that the monks at Mount Calvary are safe. For someone who is dedicated to benedictine life and to community, and a self-supposed spiritual guru, does it strike anyone else as funny that he "took to his bed"? This guy sounds like a sham. I know Mount Calvary. They would be up, working, praying and caring for those in the community around them. If God chastises those he loves, sound Holy Cross in West Park is gonna be around for a LONG time.

Felicity Pickup said...

Umm, asmodeus!

Are you just gently teasing Br. Bede, or are you serious? Doesn't strike me as funny that even monks need to catch up on the sleep deprivation sometimes. Like, the guy's over 70 years old, even if he's fitter than a lot of us younger seniors.

I don't find him a sham, myself. And IMHO I don't think he "self-supposes" himself a spiritual guru. Just doing his duty to pass on what he's learned to those who come to asking.

But I don't mean this to sound as though I'm dumping on you. If it does, my sincere apologies.

Robert Zacher said...

" ... does it strike anyone else as funny that he "took to his bed"? This guy sounds like a sham ... "

Asmodeus, the only sham here is your percetion of the situation and the person. Mondays are the community's day off or sabbath when they get a short break from their rather intense monastic observance. Dealing with guests and retreat programs on the weekends makes the Monday sabbath rest for the monks a necessity.

As a former monk who lived at Mount Calvary I very much shared in the impact of shock and grief experienced by Br. Bede. This is a tragic event in the history of the Order of the Holy Cross made bearable only by the fact that there was no loss of life in the fire. Many of us are acutely aware that old friends and brothers at the Mount no longer have a home and that they have lost almost everything except their lives and the shirts on their backs.

I can tell you that I've gone to bed in grief over this terrible event. I'm sure that there are many others beside Br. Bede who have done same. May God bless all who have been associated with Mount Calvary.

carolyn said...

Thank you for your response.. When I first read Asmodeus, I was unable to answer mindfully, I happen to be very fond of Br Bede and the letter brought up the fierce protective instincts of a mother lioness. Your gentle comment is helpful. The only fault in Bede I know is that he works too hard. I am glad that he was able to lead a retreat through the crisis but even more that he was able to rest. if I were to look for a "spiritual guru" I would want one who can stop, rest, and listen to God. I have also seen the wreckage of communities that do not take time to rest and listen.