Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Kindness of the Mount Community: Part II

Today’s posting is the last one I’ll write for this blog or my writing blog for the next several weeks. However, I plan, except for a few vacation days in July, to continue what I began yesterday: reading and commenting on your blogs.
            Why relinquish posting until sometime in August?
            Because I’m storied out. Writing, editing, and polishing stories about my life has lost some of its urgency for me. I’ve mulled and found meaning in so much of my early life and your comments have helped me put everything in context. Now I need to move on to the convent years again.  So when I begin again—in August, I’ve let go of my first twenty-two years.            
            Instead, I’ll share with you my Scholastica years in the convent. That is, the three years—1960, ’61, and ’62—for which I made temporary vows. During those years, which are a tapestry of color woven with both dark and light thread, I began to teach.            
            Today’s posting will also be about the convent, specifically the recent sesquicentennial. 

          Five members, including myself, from our class of eighteen returned to the Mount for its celebration of being home in Kansas for 150 years. I didn’t get to visit at any length with any of them because the entire day and a half was taken up with meeting and greeting and hugging and laughing with so many nuns who are still in the convent and so many who have gone on to other lives.

            We ate and prayed together and took tours of the cemetery—where so many friends of my youth are buried, nuns who taught me in college and enriched my life in the convent—and also the fourth floor of the monastery where we used to sleep in large dorms. Now these dorms have been converted into rooms for individual nuns along with recreation rooms for viewing movies and television.
            One of the things I missed in the convent was stretching out on a couch or putting my feet on a hassock and snuggling down into the comfort of an easy chair. Now the fourth floor nuns have all of that: couches, easy chairs, hassocks. O joy in the morning!
            So many changes: a large library, eating at whatever table one chooses, a nursing-home section that ranks as one of the top ten in the nation, talking in the halls, a cafeteria instead of a refectory with novices trundling in the food on carts and then later washing the dishes in the scullery. So many changes from the life I knew.
            But one thing hasn’t changed: the hospitality of the Benedictine nuns. St. Benedict, some 1,500 years ago, wrote in his Rule that we are to welcome the stranger as we would Yeshua/Jesus. And so the nuns, who are steeped in graciousness, did all they could to embrace our return to roots.

            I’m ending today’s posting with a poem about what being back at the Mount monastery was like. The poem, written by Sister Barbara Ann Mayer, OSB (Order of Saint Benedict), conveys the celebration much better than I can. She has spent more than fifty years as a nun and has witnessed many changes. One of these is that she can now pursue her love of writing. Barb’s poem captures the joy we all felt—both the nuns who have stayed at the Mount and those of us who have journeyed elsewhere.

Coming Home

We hugged, laughed, cried,
to see faces from long ago
etched with wrinkles and lines,
strong, intelligent women who
faced their uncertain future
with courage and hope. They
came to share their lives, their
stories, their memories, and
we felt blessed by their coming.

As they placed flowers at graves
of those they had loved, prayed
the psalms with joyful voices, we
felt a bond never really broken
by distance and time, a sister bond
of friendship that survived the years.

“It was like coming home,” one said,
“I feel like I left part of my heart here.”

Barbara Mayer, OSB
June 2013

Have a lovely summer. I hope to see you back here in August. I’ll be visiting your blogs in the days and weeks ahead. Peace.

PS: The Mount has published Shadowboxing,  Sister Barbara Ann Mayer’s first book of poems, and it is available at the monastery gift shop. Please click here if you’d like to contact the gift shop about Barbara’s poetry or about other books written by the nuns as well as their crafts—from iconography to embroidered tablecloths to place mats to pottery.

All the photographs are from the Mount web site. They are used with the permission of the prioress, Sister Anne Shepherd, OSB. Click here for the web site.


  1. That's a fine poem, Dee. I am so glad you had such a wonderful experience with the reunion. I look forward to hearing more about it, and I sure do relate to the feeling of being "worded out." :-)

  2. Oh, Dee, I'm so glad that you had such a great visit, such a joyous homecoming and I loved Sister Barbara's poem! Have a wonderful rest this summer -- and I'll really look forward to reading your new posts about life in the convent in August!

  3. Great verse indeed at your feed. Sometimes a break just has to come due to recharge ones batteries as well where we dwell.

  4. August is normally my favorite hate, grass/leaves drying out, whitish/grayish Kansas sky..but now, I'll look forward to reading your posts again. Have a great summer and see ya in August.

  5. Letting go can be a thing of beauty.


  6. It is a good thing to end on(at least for a while) then because it enkindles deep warmth. And I say that, as you know, without being a "spiritual" person, but still....

    ps but I am not totally convinced you are storied out ;o.

  7. It indeed sounds like the wonderful time it promised to be, and I'm so glad you were able to go and draw strength from that place and people again.

    I will miss your postings while they are gone, but look forward to their return. Where one thread ends, a new one begins.

    Loved Sister Barbara's poem- so well said! Take care, my friend, and enjoy the days to come!

  8. A beautiful poem! Don't forget about us while you're gone!!

  9. Every moment of our past is who we are today. It's good to have left pieces of our hearts behind, too.

    I look forward to hearing from you again. Have a wonderful summer.

  10. Enjoy your break can't wait to see what you have to say in August, at which point I will grow another year older.

  11. I love that you allow breaks for yourself to just read and comment. I feel I get all caught up in the journaling part that I can't always balance the reading.

    See you in August, unless of course, you stop by for a visit. :)

  12. What a blessed time for each of you! Enjoy summer and we will hear from you in August.

  13. Enjoy your break, Dee. I look forward to reading about your life in the convent!

  14. I liked the I am glad I came for a visit today. I was having internet problems and thought about not bothering with reading blogs but I am glad I stuck it out

  15. A heartfelt poem, wonderful to read it here, Dee. Isn't it wonderful that Sister Barbara Ann Mayer can now express herself in writing? I can't imagine not being able to do that, for, to me, often, writing is a form of prayer.

    Storied out. I've had my times of being in the same spot. It is always good to step back for a bit. Like turquoisemoon, August is my least favorite month. Now, I have something to look forward to in August. Rest up, Dee. Stop by the Cutoff when you can. You are always welcome.

  16. Thank you so much for this lovely post, Dee. Have a wonderful, well-deserved break until August. It will be a great joy to see you when have returned all energized and hopefully well rested. I'll miss you, though!

  17. This is truly beautiful Dee. Thank you. Look after yourself. As always, I look forward to your next post - when you are ready, and not before.

  18. The bonds of a shared, life changing experience are never broken. I am so happy for you that you were able to have this reunion.

    Have a good summer and I look forward to reading your posts in August.

  19. What a beautiful poem! I can't wait to read more about the convent years when you return. :)

  20. Amazing how much has changed for the nuns since you were there... Shows the trend of the times in some ways.. You may have stayed longer IF some of these things had been available to you at the time. WELL---we can't go into the past and speculate, can we? So glad you did go back and were able to see so many old friends.. What a blessing that part of your life must have been.

    Have a nice 'blog break'....

  21. Such a lovely, affectionate post, Dee. Sister Barbara's poem is beautiful and sums up aso well what your reunion muast have been like.

    Enjoy your break from posting. You keep up a demanding schedule with two detailed posts a week on very different topics and I'm sure a rest will recharge your batteries. I'm looking forward already to those glimpses of your life in the convent.

  22. The reunion sounded perfect and the changes much for the better. How nice that you could all just fit right in. I loved that poem and I am sure it resonates with all of you. They will always be a part of your heart.
    Sorry you are leaving but I have been where you are and a break is what is needed. Looking forward to your return.

  23. So glad you had a wonderful reunion. What a beautiful thing to be able to revisit such a pivitol time in your life.

    Have a wonderful summer, Dee!

  24. Braking after your wonderful reunion somehow seems appropriate. Enjoy your time this summer and I look forward to seeing you back posting. Hope to see you pop by for a visit, too. ;)

  25. What a wonderful visit you surely had with so many old friends. It must have been so interesting to be where life had once held such discipline and an air of austerity, and to see many comforts and a relaxing of some of the formerly rigid rules. I probably relate to that thinking back to the discipline in classrooms when I was young. Teaching today doesn't seem to have that behavioral demands. I'm happy you had this time, Dee. Your special writing voice will be missed for now, but I hope your time will be refreshing and bring you new inspiration. Do stop by to say hello when you can, but also, take breaks as you need to! oxo Debra (breathelighter)

  26. Hi Dee, how nice that you were able to go back and enjoy the people, places and things from your past.

  27. Life in the convent sounds positively modern as you describe it. Not much is left of the old way of living except prayer. Good works also?

    I suppose that is all that matters, even convents must enter the world they exist in in some way.

    Have a good time reading and writing. Blogging does become like a task one has to perform, especially if one writes posts worth reading. Daily bits of diary are all very well, but posts with meaning tire the writer and eventually the task becomes difficult and wearisome.

    I look forward to welcoming you back in August.

  28. Hello, Dee. Catching up on your posts and your life. Your stories are as compelling as ever. I am so in awe of the life you've lived and the clarity of your memories and the power of your storytelling. Have a wonderful summer. I hope you're well.

  29. I caught up with all your past entries, Dee, as they are worth reading. Your reunion sounds like you had a great time. The remembrance of your youth and mine is so different. I just wrote about my early times in San Francisco which coincides in a way with the years when you made your temporary vows. Enjoy your summer and have a great relaxing blog break.

  30. What a beautiful time of reminiscing and loving on old friends! That is a wonderful poem!

    Have a relaxing summer and stay cool!

  31. Hi Dee, enjoy your family gathering tomorrow- the pasta salad sound yummy ~:)

    be well n happy.

  32. That place sounds and looks so peaceful :) I'm glad you got to visit and that it brings good memories :) The poem is lovely.

    Enjoy your summer. :)

  33. Hi Dee, I hope your summer is going well and you are happy and healthy.
    I appreciate your stopping by and leaving a kind comment.
    Hugs and smiles across the miles ~:)

  34. Dee, I hope you are enjoying your time off and are building up material for your return.

  35. Dee,
    Thanks for calling my attention to your comment on a previous post. I commented to you again on my last post.

    Your time spent as a nun reminds me of my time spent in psychiatric nurses training. I think being with a group of women is so positive and uplifting. I treasure those memories and it was at a time when I first left the safe confines of my family. It seems the older we get, the dearer the memories are.

    Enjoy your summer and do what is needed. The rest will follow. In love and peace, Manzi

  36. Hope you had a happy 4th Dee.

  37. Wow! That must have been such a trip for you Dee! I used to visit the nuns, at the convent where I went to school, whenever I went home. "The Mag" was our headmistress, and one time I arrived at the door of the convent and asked the nun who answered if the Mag (excuse me, Sr. Margaret) was still around. She called me on my euphemism!
    Came down to the parlor (remember those stiff, musty places?!)and with her signature twinkle in her eye said "Yes, Molly, I'm still around!" All those years later she could still make me squirm!

  38. Dee, what a heartwarming entry; it reads like the final chapter of a book called 'Coming Home to Myself'. Your story never fails to be deeply inspiring to me, though I get here rarely these days and would love to come more. Thank you.

  39. Hello, Dee. Like so many others, I dropped by to say I hope your summer is good, your vacation lovely and your spirit refreshed. Peace.