“Are you doing okay?” a friend asked me.
“Yes and no, ha,” an honest reply.
Hmmm, I think. “Good question…yes, because of faith and hope. Many blessings.”
This might not be the typical are-you-okay-what’s-wrong? line of questioning one might expect, but good friends know what’s behind your “yes and no” already. Sometimes the no just needs to lie right where it is; it’s the yes that needs more attention.
Likely, the question was meant for me to consider what is good? what is hopeful? what is well with my soul?
I have a SoulCollage® card that I created named “The Seasons of Life: I’ve Seen A Lot of Shit.” Eloquent, I know, but it’s the first thing that came to mind when I looked at my finished card.
“Winter, spring, summer, and fall are mulch for each other. The seasons of our lives are like that also. We learn from the layers of life. Our joys, sorrows, regrets, hopes, miseries, and enthusiasms are mulch for each other.” The Flowing Grace of Now, Macrina Wiederkehr
I had no idea what I was creating when I started, with no goal in mind. I was drawn to the older women sharing stories and enjoying each other’s company. They look experienced (not old, please), rested, peaceful, connected, comfortable and wise. I imagined what they might be discussing. Perhaps, despite the storms of life and the many obstacles that make them feel all shot-up, they are grateful to be still standing, still sitting, still connecting, still enjoying.
Both women hold a little of each season, every year, and the many experiences they have lived within them. I imagine that these soul companions are teachers for each other. There are teachers all around us—our circle of friends, spiritual companions, authors, thought-leaders, poets and musicians.
One of my spiritual teachers is author Sister Macrina Wiederkehr. The first Benedictine book I was introduced to (back in the ’90s) was “A Tree Full of Angels: Seeing the Holy in the Ordinary” written by Macrina. Several years later, at St. Benedict Center, I was honored to meet Macrina attending one of her retreats. Through the years, I’ve gotten to know her better, to attend more of her retreats and enjoy more of her writing.
Her newest book, “The Flowing Grace of Now,” has fifty-two meditative readings that weave their way through the seasons of the year, pointing to a different teacher for each week. The reading and reflective questions include wisdom lessons from Macrina, as well as poetry and prose from teacher-writers like Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Joyce Rupp, John O’Donahue, Henri Nouwen and Joan Chittister, mystics like Julian of Norwich, and from the stories of the Old and New Testament. By taking an entire week to devote to the reading, the seed has time to burrow. By meditating upon a line or two of scripture, poetry, lyrics or prose, it sinks to a deeper place of resting in one’s heart, taking root, becoming the “mulch” from which to grow from understanding to blooming and becoming. The words take root in your life, impacting your thoughts, attitudes, and actions.
“Autumn holds fragments of the other seasons in transformative arms…the mood of autumn is the ebb and flow of life. Autumn stands as an epiphany to the truth that all things are passing and even in the passing there is beauty. It holds out platters of death and life.” -The Circle of Life, Joyce Rupp & Macrina Wiederkehr
So many teachers, so many seasons in a long life—we are called to keep learning. Each of us is called to take the seasons of life into “transformative arms”, to become more of who we are. So this autumn weekend, I consider the seasons of life—all of it, especially the blessings. I think about the “yes” of life that threads itself through my days—the yes to faith, hope, learning new lessons and gratitude for many blessings. The daily yeses keep me focused on the bigger yes—the yes to God.
My yes is the desire to become more of who God created me to be, to keep learning from the “mulch” of the seasons and experiences of life. This I have hope for and believe in. This I am grateful for and what I say yes to.
Yes, it is well with my soul.
“People often speak of becoming more grateful after having lost some of their health. Suddenly they see all they have taken for granted. Gratitude for all that has been enables them to say yes to all that is to come.” -The Circle of Life, Joyce Rupp & Macrina Wiederkehr
October 16, 2019 at 2:39 pm
How are you? (Your reflections below are certainly one response to this question).
On Monday, two videographers, Mikala and Nate, were here. They interviewed several of us on mission projects for our future mission display. Plus, they took video footage for a walk-through tour through St. Benedict Center, on a beautiful fall day. Finally, they did a testimonial interview with Fr. Jim Secora, who happens to be here on retreat.
You may have heard about Br. Tobias. He got cellulitis while traveling and has to get plenty of rest now during the next couple of weeks with his leg put up. It was not possible on Monday to do an interview with him. Thus, the crew has to come back another time.
The idea came up whether you would be willing also to give a testimonial! Would you? You know this place very well. You could say things similar to what you said at the anniversary celebration of 20 years SBC. We can discuss this when you are here this weekend. See you soon! Very gratefully,
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October 16, 2019 at 7:49 pm
Absolutely! I’m looking forward to being there Saturday and catching up!
October 16, 2019 at 8:19 pm
Fr. Thomas & Jodi…I’m in the autumn of my life. Jodi, I love what & how you describe it. St. Benedict Center is ‘my home away from home’. Be it attending a program or merely retreating from everday life, feeding my heart & soul (not to mention my body), I am blessed beyond measure when I turn off the highway onto St. Benedict’s Holy Ground.
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October 16, 2019 at 9:00 pm
AMEN, Peg!! We need to take time to feed the soul. I’m looking forward to a visit this weekend!