Monday, October 3, 2016

Sitting on bells

Tonight I am "sitting on bells" which means, translated to everyday understanding, I am taking my monthly turn sitting at the front door and running the switchboard. In old monastic terms it means being the portress. In the Rule of Benedict there is an entire chapter on this service: Chapter 53. Here we find this lovely and oft quoted line: "All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ..." And in a contemporary commentary on this we read, "Hospitality is the way we turn a prejudiced world around, one heart at a time."

In reality, being at switchboard-bells (in the old motherhouse, Morse Code-like bells were rung to indicate which sister was being called) is 1/2 a time to say hello to lots of sisters, as many pass through the front foyer on their way to somewhere and 1/2 a chance to catch up on anything that 2-3 hours of presence in one place with few interruptions can facilitate. Of course there is the occasional guest at the door, and when that happens it's a chance to live out Chapter 53--in real time.

Here's our front not really! But this is what you see if you come to our front door and look up: the bell tower and the new clerestory on the chapel.