An ICY snow day reflection

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Last week I enjoyed the stability of an icy day. The Benedictine vow of stability provides for our need to be rooted in Christ, to be grounded in the present moment, and practicing gratitude regardless of our circumstances and of the uncertain future.  Seasons come and go, “but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8) We learn from the seasons that they and all things do, indeed, pass. The icy, chilly weather prevents us from traveling too swiftly; there is something to learn from this staying put. This paradox, that we must stay grounded during the changing seasons, encourages us to move a little slower and to learn from the present moment. The icy weather gives us no choice but to stay put. Perhaps when we are going through “icy” relationships or experiences, we can apply the Benedictine principle of stability.  Continue reading “An ICY snow day reflection”

The road ahead is uncertain. But isn’t it always?

The road ahead is uncertain. But isn’t it always?

Today’s weather, on this day of the inauguration, reflects how I have felt for several weeks now. It’s a little dreary, foggy, rainy; the road ahead is unclear.  But weather can change quickly in Nebraska, so I imagine that my feelings will likely change soon enough as well. There’s also a good chance that even if circumstances stay the same, how I see them will change. One day it won’t seem so foggy and dreary. I know this is true, both for the weather and for myself.

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Earlier this week I posted photos of the ice storm that created such dangerous conditions, closing schools and businesses for a few days; today there is haze and drizzle; and, tomorrow it’s supposed to be 50 degrees. Only in the state of Nebraska can we experience so many seasons in one week! As for my state of mind, foggy actually feels pretty good compared to the earthquake, tsunami-sized feelings that came on the heels of a simultaneously frigid and fiery election season.  But I know that how I felt November 8 is different than it was a month, a week, or even a few days ago. Continue reading “The road ahead is uncertain. But isn’t it always?”

Bridges Photo Exhibit: 150 years, 93 counties, and my favorite place!

It’s finally here…Nebraska’s 150th birthday! And I can finally share the photograph of Christ the King Priory that is in  The “Bridges” Sesquicentennial Traveling Photo Exhibit.

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I submitted five photos of Christ the King Priory to a photography contest called Bridges, sponsored by Hildegard Center for the Arts, to highlight historic treasures in all 93 counties to celebrate the Sesquicentennial, or 150th birthday of Nebraska. Photographs were to focus on how the subject serves as a bridge to connect Nebraskan’s with their culture and heritage—a bridge from the past to the present.

I entered the following photographs of Christ the King Priory, the Benedictine monastery where my favorite monks live, to represent Colfax County.

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If you know me, you’ve likely heard me mention my favorite monks and St. Benedict Center a few hundred times or two. Over the past 15 years, I have been to dozens of programs and retreats, attended Mass and Liturgy of the Hours (daily prayers said five times a day) whenever I could, received countless sessions of spiritual direction, led my own SoulFully You retreats and have become a Benedictine Oblate. St. Benedict Center has helped me make my way back to the Catholic faith after a 20-year hiatus and has become my spiritual home. The monks and Oblates are family to me.

DSC_0389Photo: Final Oblation Mass, St. Benedict Center Chapel

DSC_0168 - CopyPhoto: Jubilee Celebration, 50 years of Monastic Life for Fr. Volker Futter, pictured with oblates and monks of Christ the King Priory. 

So let me tell you the story of Christ the King Priory and how they are bridging the past with the present:

In the early 1930’s, two monks, Brothers Felix and Egbert, were sent to the United States from Münsterschwarzach Abbey in Germany. The Abbey, following the Rule of St. Benedict (dating back to the 6th century), felt threatened by the Nazi government. They were afraid their financial ability to support themselves and their missions around the world would be in jeopardy. They were, in fact, justified in their fear: the Abbey was seized during World War II and used as a hospital for German soldiers injured in the war.

Meanwhile, the two monks traveled throughout the United States, humbly accepting donations that allowed their mission work to continue. Their primary focus was on keeping their missions alive, particularly in Africa. If there was no income flow through donations, they could not continue their work, a vital component of the Benedictine motto, Ora et Labora (prayer and work).DSC_0589

By 1935, the monks found their permanent home in Schuyler, Nebraska. The Benedictine Mission House, as they were named, had its first location in the former Notre Dame Sisters Convent, an old house in town. By 1979, several more monks joined the monastic community and a new home was built into “Mission Hill”, just north of Schuyler, and named Christ the King Priory. Their new home was uniquely designed burrowed into a hill, symbolically representing their vow of stability. The building, visible only on one side with a chapel steeple rising out of the center of the hill, appears like an earth lodge or a teepee as if to say, “We are here to stay. You have supported us and we shall now support you. We honor your native past and we want to be part of your present and future.”DSC_0395a

The monks, while continuing to fundraise for missions around the world, became servants of Schuyler by building a retreat and conference center in 1997. St. Benedict Center, built on 160 acres of farmland across from Christ the King Priory, provides an oasis of peace for those who search for personal and spiritual growth. They welcome individuals and groups of all Christian denominations as they seek God in a peaceful and quiet setting for prayer, rest, and renewal; a special place to escape the noisy world and to be alone with God.

Another vow the Benedictine monks take is obedience, to listen carefully to what God is saying and to be present to community needs. As the population of Schuyler changed through the years with an increase in Hispanic immigration, this careful listening led the monks to provide legal immigration services and support through El Puente, in a joint partnership with Catholic Charities of Omaha.

From 1930 to 2016, from Germany to Schuyler, from a small house in town to a monastery on the hill, the monks of Christ the King Priory bridge the past to the present. The German monks who came only to secure financial help for their worldwide missions are now serving immigrants and visitors from all around the world in the community of Schuyler, Nebraska through their missions of St. Benedict Center and El Puente.

DSC_1067Photo: Münsterschwarzach Abbey, Germany

Münsterschwarzach Abbey, the mother house in Germany where Brother Felix and Egbert came from, eventually returned to its monastic roots after the war and celebrated 1200 years of prayer and work last summer.

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You can see all of the winners, a virtual photo exhibit, a digital catalog of all photos, lesson plans and more at the Hildegard Center for the Arts website. The traveling exhibit schedule is:

The Great Plains Art Museum in Lincoln: January 6 – March 25, 2017
The Seward Civic Center: June 1 – July 28, 2017
The North Platte Prairie Arts Center: August 1 – September 22, 2017
The Norfolk Art Center: September 7 – October 26, 2017
The Alliance Carnegie Arts Center: September 26 – November 10, 2017
The Durham Museum in Omaha: November 14, 2017 – January 7, 2018

For more information about St. Benedict Center and Christ the King Priory see their websites or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.  

For more information about Benedictine spirituality, a new blog/website, BeingBenedictine.com.

For more information about Benedictine spirituality Fr. Mauritius Wilde, former Prior of Christ the King Priory, addresses many topics on Discerning Hearts podcasts and Wilde Monk blog posts

For more information about SoulFully You retreats and other blog posts.

Lessons I’ve Learned, Again: 2016 in Review

beginningsHappy New Year from SoulFully You! Thank you for subscribing to and sharing my posts during 2016.

The SoulFully You website was birthed as a way to connect with those who practice prayerful creativity and who attend my retreats and workshops. The blog came along later when writing as an expression of creativity felt comfortable. Journaling is a spiritual practice, sometimes an emotional purging, but always a way to see the hand of God at work in one’s life. For me, reflecting is just as prayerful as the writing itself. Reading what I have written during 2016, I see how God was preparing me for challenges, urging me to trust and to be patient. God works in every moment of our life—in times of joy and peace, turmoil and trial.  I am never more certain of that than when I re-read my journal or blog posts. I appreciate those in person, or through this blog, who joined me in the journey.

Lessons I Have Learned, Again

Most of 2016 was observed as a Jubilee Year of Mercy in the Catholic Church, a time to reflect on the many ways we are in need of mercy and the opportunity to always begin again.  Sometimes it takes living, learning a lesson, living it again, remembering the lesson learned, (and in my case) writing about it, screwing it up a few more times, before, finally, letting the lesson settle into the soul as a balm for what ails.

captureThere were plenty of opportunities to practice mercy, on myself and others, this year. In Parker Palmer for President: The only political post I will ever make, I was full of intention to be “more Benedictine” during the tension of a tumultuous election year—to listen more, to honor diversity and to be more hospitable to those who don’t share similar political views. I admit that it was easier to write before we knew who the Presidential nominees would be, before offensive Facebook posts and family disagreements, before the dream of our first woman President died, than it was to live out. The best outcome from this post—a direct response from the dear Parker Palmer, who I pledge to vote for should he ever decide to run.

Lesson learned: Having intention is easier than action; be more merciful to oneself; try again. 

In When the Dust Settles, I had a dream that gave me the insight to move through some difficult situations slowly, to be cautious, and to patiently wait for the dust to settle, to see what otherwise might be overlooked. God has many backup plans for us; we don’t need to have a perfect vision of what is to come. By surrendering to surprise, by surrendering an idealized version of our life, we create an opening for God to work in mysterious and more perfect ways than we could have imagined.

Lesson learned: Be patient; one can see more clearly when the dust has settled. 

I also learned what I previously thought I knew, that I don’t know nothin’. I learned from my father-in-law, who also knew nothin’, that one should leave “room for not knowing, for mystery. He knew he wasn’t in charge of all things true… and he admitted it many, many times.” So many times I’ve thought I had things figured out, knew what would happen, had expected an outcome, just to come back to this lesson—I don’t know nothin’. Anything can happen and that’s going to be okay too. Things change, God is constant.

Lesson learned: I don’t know nothin’. 

I also remembered that I am a child of God, something I thought I already knew, but apparently had forgotten also. In Made for Goodness: A Child of God, I was reminded of this message: “Walk slowly. Listen, for God is speaking. You are accompanied. You are known; uniquely created. Be faithful. Trust and it won’t matter how the road may turn. It’s not where you are going, but how. God is with you.”

Lesson learned: God is constant. HE is before all things. By HIM all things consist. (Col 1:17) 

So Much Joy Too

Despite the challenging year, there was so much joy too. Most significantly, our daughter, Jessica, navigated her final semester of college, landed an amazing job in Washington DC and moved to Capitol Hill two weeks after receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Business Administration. “Our blessing has always been for her to pursue her dreams, to find her place in the world and to become a joy-filled, independent adult.” See A Mother’s Blessing and Just Listen: Advice for a Quarter-Life Crisis.

Much joy came from simple, yet poignant moments: lunch with a friend, a walk around Holmes Lake, a thoughtful text message or a surprise gift or card of encouragement, good conversation, times of silence, reading, creating, leading or attending a retreat at St. Benedict Center, having a photo in the Hildegard Center for the Arts “Bridges” Nebraska Sesquicentennial Photo Exhibit, Oblate discussions and lectio divina, the friendship and shared reading with my Circle and book group, the satisfaction of finishing my first theology class at Creighton University, the ordinary moments of marriage and mothering, a Carrie Newcomer concert on a coincidental weekend trip to DC, moments of clarity and connection with the Divine. Joy can always be found.

In 2017, I hope to write more about Benedictine spirituality, sharing posts and other resources at a new website and blog, BeingBenedictine.combeing-benedictine

Thanks to you, SoulFully You was viewed 4700 times by over 2400 readers in more than 40 countries, primarily in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and Germany.  SoulFully You is about listening, praying and living a creative, purposeful, passionate life. It’s about becoming SoulFully You.  

May you have joy, peace, love, and creativity in 2017!  May it settle in your heart that you can “do this hard thing” knowing God is present in all of your moments. Blessings, Jodi

You can do this hard thing
You can do this hard thing
It’s not easy I know
But I believe that it’s so
You can do this hard thing

 

 

 

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