Monday, August 23, 2010

Learning Curve


I had forgotten the learning curve of the first year teacher. There is so much happening all at the same time! I am learning about the course material I am teaching; keeping just a step or two ahead of the students at a time. I am learning about the school and how it is organized. I am learning about the faculty and staff; each school's ministers work together in a unique way. I am also learning about my new convent home with just one other sister; she is a wonderful help, but there is so much to learn!

Benedict challenged his monks to respond obediently to the call of the Spirit and the needs of the community. However, doing the service isn't the challenge; Benedict continues with the further call to do the work of the community without any grumbling! I face these challenges and scale my learning curve, I remind myself of what I love about my new ministry. I have the opportunity to teach students in the age catagories that I enjoy : ) I have the opportunity to live with a sister from my community within a few hours drive of the monastery : ) And the faculty & staff of the school have been very supportive!

Now, back to my homework!


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Preparing to Serve!


I know I have been a bit absent from my stories, but I have just begun a new ministry! August 2nd I interviewed for a teacher of Theology position in Omaha and received an offer to teach at the school; August 3rd I met with my Prioress to discuss the teaching ministry and called the school to accept their offer; the rest of the week (3 days) was spent packing, organizing, and reading a bit of the textbooks that the school sent back with me. It has all moved so quickly, I hardly had time to think except to thank God for His goodness in gifting me with a school to serve.

The next Monday morning, I drove down with Sisters Kathy and Mildred (procurator) to unload my bedroom and teaching boxes; and load Sister Clarice's bedroom and office boxes. She too had been looking for a ministry position and after seven months had been offered a parish ministry position in another Nebraska city! God is good. Tuesday and Wednesday were spent between unpacking at my new school and unpacking at my new convent. Between unpackings, I also tried to keep reading and developing some lesson plans because school starts on Monday, August 16th! This Thursday and Friday, I began to meet faculty and staff at the inservice and retreat meetings...I feel overwhelmed with information, but blessed by good folk with which to serve and minister to the students of the school.

"Monastics who work so far away that they cannot return to the oratory at the proper time--and the abbot determines that is the case--are to perform the Work of God where they are, and kneel out of reverence for God. So too, those who have been sent on a journey are not to omit the prescribed hours but to observe them as best they can, not neglecting their measure of service" (RB 50: 1-4).

Sister Marietta has been wonderful community as I transition from student to teacher and monastery to convent life again. She is flexible enough to help find a time for our lauds and vespers together each day...even when school starts and I need to pray by 6:15! I feel blessed to share our convent home life and service with her.

Now for two stories about my new school!
The first includes the Abbot/President of the Benedictine school. He came to visit me as I was looking about my little office space trying to determine how to arrange my desk and file cabinet. "Sister! You don't have an air conditioner," he made this statement as if he was accusing himself of some negligence. "No Abbot, but it isn't supposed to be this hot for too long and I can buy a fan to carry me over." The Abbot nodded with a grandfatherly wisdom and strode out of my room without another word, but he returned within thirty minutes with a work study student in tow. The student set up a fan as the Abbot explained, "tomorrow there will be an air conditioner installed before the morning is over. Thank you sister for your patience." I thanked him for his consideration and thoughtfulness, and inwardly did a dance of joy for the promised air since the heat index was topping out at over 100 for the next week or more!
The next story is more of an observation; I have not felt so feminine in my life :) Now that I am working at a boys school for a Benedictine monastery, I am outnumbered by men in an educational setting for the first time in my life (there are only 5 women at the school itself). The monks, male teachers, and boys have been offering to carry boxes, open doors, and all sorts of odd jobs since I arrived. I jokingly told them they had best not spoil me too much, I am one of the sisters who is to lift, carry, and serve as errand runner when I am at our monastery! They assured me it wouldn't last too long.

Please pray that I am able to keep my nose above water as school begins on Monday after only 10 days of preparation!


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Corn Parties!


"The monastics should serve one another. Consequently, no one will be excused from kitchen service unless he is sick or engaged in some important business of the monastery, for such service fosters love" Let those who are not strong have help so that they may serve without distress, and let everyone reieve help as the size of the community or local conditions warrant"(RB 35: 1-3).

The cooler has been filled with three pickup loads of sweet corn and the sisters have just about had their fill of the fresh ears at supper; now it is time to begin the corn parties! Before the "Corn Party" sign goes up, some sisters volunteer to gather to husk and wash the corn of their silks. On my way to the corn cutting station, I happened upon a group yesterday as they were laughing, talking, and husking their way through several bushels of sweet corn.

The corn cutters gathered in the kitchen with knives, boards, and a few specialty corn cutters from the South Dakota Corn Palace. We were a bit quieter as we sliced our way through the cooled bushels of steamed ears. (The 'Corn Zipper' was an awesome tool to removed kernels from the cob without cutting too close or slipping!) Later a couple of sisters took away the barrels of husks and cobs and dumped them back in the field to mulch the future harvest.

Last year we cut and froze almost 500 pounds of sweet corn to eat during the rest of the year. Each bite is a treat from summer and a promise of the next year's field. It is also a great reminder of how much we can do together as a community.