With everything that happens during Lent and then in Holy Week, leading up to Easter, it seems as though now that the Easter season is here there should be a time of relaxing and catching one's breath. Seems like that, doesn't it? It certainly seemed like that during Lent and especially in the latter part of Holy Week.
Well, it might seem like it, but the reality is somewhat different. From now through the middle of June is always one of the busiest seasons of the year. Several of our guests have said the same about their lives at this time of the year. The scramble to get everything done before summer sets in seems to catch up with everyone. The last meeting of the season, the last conference, the last project, the retreat that we have to squeeze into the schedule, all of them have to be fit in.
And of course, one of the places that people go to hold that meeting, finish that project and have that conference or retreat is here. And some of the people who conduct those conferences and those retreats and manage those projects and meetings are us.
So it has begun. The day after Easter Br Adam left for Southern Indiana for the annual meeting of Formation Directors of the Benedictine communities in the United States. This is a (barely) ecumenical event, mostly Roman Catholic of course, but including us and one of the monks from St Gregory's Abbey in Michigan. Hard on the heels of that Br Ronald went to Lake Placid for the annual Continuing Education event for New York Massage Therapists. Br Charles went to the Utica area to do a retreat for the Diocese of Central New York. Br Robert, the Superior, was off to Toronto to make his annual Visitation to the Order's Priory there. Br James had a few days with part of his family who are soon moving to England. This week Adam, Andrew and Scott join Robert in Toronto to attend a meeting of CAROA (the Conference of Anglican Religious Orders of the Americas) whose parent organization we helped to found in the 1940's and have been active in ever since. Other smaller and more local events are happening as well.
If you think that this might leave those of us at home a bit stretched, you would be thinking right. If I count right, however, there will always be at least two of the lead singers in Choir, one for each side, so we can continue to sing the Offices. There will always be enough people to do the dishes - though we may be doing them more frequently. But guests are always willing to help with cleaning up the refectory and mopping off the tables, and we now have Jamie, a woman from one of the local villages, to help with dishes on the weekends.
There will be some meetings that we will postpone until more people are home. Some tasks won't get done exactly to schedule. Those of us who are home will see a lot of the inside of the Pantry, where the dishes are done. Once when I was conducting a Benedictine Experience for a group in North Carolina and they all talked about how relaxing and peaceful it was I said to them: "If there were a real experience of the Benedictine life the first thing we'd do is give you all too much to do." Sounds like the lives of most folks, doesn't it? Some things are universal.
But Spring is coming and the weather is moderating. We can get outside now, and there are a lot of flowers blooming. There is the joy of new life in the world and in the liturgy. If we participate in the common craziness of the world at this time of the year, that isn't a bad thing for monks. It still feels good to be doing what we do; singing God's praises, and helping people to deepen their lives and get a bit more meaning out of it all.