Thursday, January 30, 2014

What's essential?

This week on January 23 St. Scholastica Monastery celebrated the 135th anniversary of our Benedictine community in Arkansas.  The little log cabin below is actually a cake which is a replica of the original log cabin in New Blaine Arkansas which was, at that time, our founding site.  As I look at the cabin I realize that I am looking at history.  I hear echos of the stories of our founding Sisters.   As we enjoyed the cake at our evening meal January 23 I was so aware that when our Sisters entered that cabin they had no cake.  Indeed they had very little, the bare essentials and  not even that. 

I want to hold on to the word, ESSENTIAL, for a little while.  Ever since our Founding Day Celebration I've been praying with that word and trying to discern just what is essential in my life.  In no way am I implying that we should live in destitution yet I do have concerns with how distracted my life can become in regard to the truly important ingredients of each day.  How can I simplify my life in small ways that truly matter each day?   How can I do a slow dance with only the essential?  For indeed, when I make friends with that which is essential I see everything with new eyes.  For example, beauty is essential and it is all around me.  Sometimes when I stop my restless pacing, I see the beauty that I pass by every day because I'm looking for something else, something better, more profound or elaborate....  These musings reminded me of a poetic reflection I  wrote many years ago.  I named it DECORATIONS.

"In our search for the holy, there are times when our restless preparations smother the very truth for which we are searching.  We decorate our rooms and make elaborate preparations for our prayer,      
    when a single flower  ...

......and a moment of waiting 
                                                                                                                                      are all we need to meet the One Who Comes. 
 In our restlessness, our search 
sometimes becomes the only god we every meet. 

My days are all spent
in decorating my house.
I am forever preparing
for your arrival.
I hunger for your presence
yet I take not the time
to wait for your coming
and to my great sorrow
you never arrive.

It is because I refuse
to be silent
that I cannot hear you.

It is because I refuse
to await you
that you cannot come.

It is because I refuse
to be idle
that I cannot enjoy you.

It because I am too busy
hanging decorations
that I cannot welcome you home.

Yet in your deep wisdom
your presence leans toward mine.
You understand my decorations
to be symbols of my hunger
and you know of the day
when my heart swept clean
will be the only decoration needed
and I will listen for you coming
like night awaiting day.

--Macrina Wiederkehr
Seasons of Your Heart, HarperSanFrancisco

And now back to our beginning question: 
What is essential?  
What will you dance with this week?
List a few things/people/experiences 
that are essential
for you to live a happy life.




  1. Very beautiful and prayer-provoking entry for me. Thank you!

  2. Macrina, Macrina how wonderful to have found you again. I am reading "The Clositer Walk" which prompted to go to St. Johns Abby site. While looking through their book list I came across one of yours that referenced your blog, and wonderful,wonderful here you are. I love your work. Years ago I purchased "Season of my Heart" and it is still one of my favorites. You are book marked and I will be visiting often. Thank you for what you do and who you are.......Blessings...Sue G