Friday, July 8, 2011

The Commonplace Divine


Today is another commonplace Friday. One of many summer days that have been slipping away while I'm home at the monastery. Nothing extraordinary, nothing amazing, but it is in these average days that Benedict calls us to make the commonplace a taste of the divine, and I will miss it a great deal when I return to teaching away from the monastery in the fall.

7AM Lauds followed by the Eucharist is celebrated in common. The same sisters sit in nearly the same spots arriving nearly at the same predictable times every morning. We settle into our places in the Peace Chapel; a collection of commonplace women who are far from common when seen in the eyes of the divine. Each of us bringing the prayers of our heart, the community, and those we love to the Liturgy of the Hours and Eucharist. Each of us adding our voices (tired, bright, sharp, flat, or shinning) to the musical lilt of our chant. Each of us listening for the voice of God and the call of Christ during the silent lulls between Psalms.

8AM Breakfast for those who eat after Mass and the break of our morning silence. A very common act in the meal, but it is also a time to share.
We share the plans for our day, the hopes of what it might be...
in this it can become a time of the divine, seeing Christ work in one another.

My work of the morning was simply reading and reviewing my plans for teaching this fall. This varies between the tedious and the inspired depending on the day and topic. Today was somewhere in between. Those texts can be the divine when I remind myself it is reaching out to support the next generation of those who believe, blessing our future together.

Noon Prayer is celebrated after lunch in our small groups. This little hour is only ten minutes long at the most. A Psalm or two, a short reading, a period of silence, and the Lord's Prayer to close. A reminder of God's presence throughout our day.

My afternoon work was chapel cleaning with two other sisters. Sweeping the marbled floor in aisles and between pews, shinning a bit of brass, and some dusting. Repeating the same work that has been done on a weekly basis for over 50 years. Repeating the same work that has been done by postulants, novices, and student sisters from foreign lands. This quiet manual labor is a silent gift of love in caring for our sisters and our monastic home of worship. While moving up and down the rows of pews, I pray for those who have called for our support, family, friends, and my sisters too. Cleaning is commonplace work, and it seems mundane until you begin thinking of all those who came before and who will come after. This little revelation occurred while I was on a step stool reaching the high places of Our Lady of Einsiedeln's side altar with my duster. Hmmm.

Soon it will be time for Vespers and supper. Our sisters will file into chapel following a similar pattern to Lauds, our commonplace gathering of Love. In the repetition of the horarium (schedule) and dailiness of our lives we are called to see the divine shaping and molding us slowly, deliberately...from the common to the divine image. How do you see the commonplace shaping you?


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