Living in a monastery or abbey gives new meaning to repetitive. But by repetitive I don't mean monotonous, boring or tedious. Yes, there is a daily schedule: meals at these times, prayer at those times--often indicated here by the ringing of bells. But when we have too many special occasions in a row, you'll always hear, "Oh, when will we get back to the ordinary schedule?" In fact, there is something reliable and reassuring about doing things the same way or at the same time or in a similar pattern most of the time.
This week we're beginning to see some of the annual "signs of Lent" appear, whether they be little changes in the daily schedule, new hymns at prayer or something added to the environment of a room or chapel. But even in these seasonal changes there is a commonality with the way it is every year.
We have some guests this week who are making their very first visit to the Mount. I try to imagine visiting our place and seeing our way of life for the first time. I wonder if they see these things as orderly and regulated. I think they're generally meant to be that, but only for smooth functioning. I hope they can also see a harmony, serenity and depth that comes from having chosen patterns--but that still have room for variety and creativity that can be woven within them. This is the truer experience for most of us.
And here's a typical mundane pattern that turned out to not be so at all. Every year about this time as I'm looking out at my blog's "patron saint," the Marian statue outside my office window, I decide I'd better get out there and cut down last summer's dead vines that grow up on the trellis behind her. Yesterday was the day--and lo and behold look what this year uncovered!
If you're a little behind on checking out the latest news on our community website or on our sisters' blogs, I urge you to find the time. The Smilebox on last weekend's Lenten oblate retreat is especially good.