Lifestyle. Good afternoon from sunny Vermont. On her trips to Newport, up near the Canadian border, my sister travels by a monastery. She wondered about it enough to call and get the mass times. So that’s how this morning found us in new territory, surrounded by the songs of Benedictine nuns in a small chapel fitted with old, wooden pews. Two tall, lean, white birches, growing about twenty feet out from the window right next to us, danced and shimmered in the wind–either with joy from the liturgy, or in rebellious provocation against the women in full habit.
My daughter leaned her head on my shoulder as I followed the written Latin in the little blue book I was given, using my finger as a pointer. I tried to sing, but there were so many notes to each syllable that I kept falling short and eventually gave up and listened. We all had a general idea where we were in the service–put a Roman Catholic in a mass anywhere in the world and the service is the same. Still, sung and spoken Latin invokes mystery, as least it did for us.
We couldn’t see them, but I’m guessing maybe fifteen to twenty nuns sat cloistered toward our left. When they sang, they sounded sweet, on pitch, but quieter than I expected. Sometimes the trees beside me sang louder. During the times of contemplation scattered throughout the service, I thought about Liv, how she laughed when I told her she didn’t like me now but she would again in college. And I thought about Serena, who woke up again this morning in full body pain, and asked me if it really would be all right. And how I said yes, because I’m so sure that it will, but it still kills me to see her hurting. I thanked God for my blessings and tried to hand over all my worries for the week ahead.
As we walked back through the graceful, narrow hallways of the building, I noticed small rooms set up for guests. The nun accompanying us told us that women came here on retreat, seeking peace and quiet from an anxious world. I thought to myself, the ocean is my monastery.
Spiritus. Another great word for an exercise in hermeneutics. But today, I think I’ll just whisper it quietly, in my backyard, with my dog.
Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.