Monday, June 14, 2010

Wiped Out Monk

Chapter 2010 is over. I am fried.

That doesn't mean it wasn't good. It was, in fact, very good. We worked hard. We worked really hard.

When we finished yesterday around noon, I had an idea that I would do my blogging in the afternoon, so I could get it posted nearly on time. My mind thought that was a nice idea, but my body refused to cooperate. Not that I spent all the afternoon sleeping: it turned out that I was too tired to do that. But whenever I tried to think about doing something productive my mind tuned out. In the evening I watched a movie. So far today I've been doing things like laundry and emptying the trash baskets, but always with the idea that I'd get to my writing when the energy was sufficient. I have some social appointments in the next 24 hours too, and by the time we resume our usual schedule on Wednesday, I should be back in shape for normal work. I would say something about being 72 years old, but everyone around here seems to be in the same shape.

Our work was in communication with each other, and we did a good job. We worked hard to say what was important and to receive each other's sharing with respect. That takes a lot of energy. We used a technique that turns out to be quite effective. We sit in a circle and a question is proposed and anyone who wishes to respond does so. No one can speak more than once until everyone who wishes to participate has spoken. Then you can speak again if you want to. No one speaks more than twice. It turns out that this makes people think carefully about what they are going to say and it created an atmosphere in which we all listened with great care. It was a remarkable experience. It took quite a lot of energy.

We've been talking about our future. This year we didn't try to make big plans for the years ahead: we were laying a foundation for other conversations as time goes on. Like most monastic communities, as far as we can see we will be smaller in the years ahead. We are fortunate to have continued to have new men entering our Order, but the pace is slower than in the past, and it appears to us that the community will thrive, but it will be smaller. This is going to take respectful attention and careful planning, and we made a very good start this year. Of course, some initiatives are already in progress - the new school at our monastery in South Africa, for instance, and the plans for that and the support which will be needed occupied a good deal of our time. We also had time to hear from our Br Leonard, who is teaching at a seminary in Cape Coast in Ghana where we had a monastery for a number of years, and about his work for the Ghanian Church.

On Friday afternoon we had the great joy of the Life Profession of Br Randy Greve. It was a wonderful occasion for us all, even more so as it is the 3rd Life Profession that we have had in the last year - Br Bernard last fall, Br Daniel in South Africa last month and now Randy. And if God continues to be gracious, we will have 2 more in the next year. It has been a long, long time, since we have had so many men committing themselves to Holy Cross, and it's a good sign for the future with which we were concerned in our Chapter.

It's always a real treat when a Profession is celebrated during our Annual Chapter, with so many more brothers here than are usually present. There were also a good many of our friends and Associates present, as well as the members of several other religious orders, and our good friend and companion Br Vincent Ignatius OSB from St Joseph's monastery in Natchez, Mississippi was here to play the organ for the service, and as usual he coaxed some remarkable music out of our instrument. He is a very talented musician and is usually here each summer for one of our Flute Masters weeks.

Following the service we had a very special supper that everyone shared, and after the eating and the celebrating with good friends, the community had its own party on our porch overlooking the Hudson. It was a lot of fun, and even, on occasion, a bit raucous, and it made a very good end to a wonderful celebration. Randy, as many of you will know, was trained here at West Park, and has recently moved to our Priory in Toronto. In the fall he will begin seminary, and in a couple of years, we hope, he will be ordained to the priesthood.

After all of that was over we finished Chapter with our business sessions, passed some resolutions, received the budgets from all of the houses, had a final service in which we renewed our vows, as we do each year, and then adjourned for another year. Most of the brethren from other houses have now departed, and by tomorrow it will be just us again, and on Wednesday we'll start another year, and I, for one, am full of gratitude for what we had this week, and for the future that lies before us.

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