Sunday, July 18, 2010

the better part

I am spending a few days with a friend who is a cloistered nun, and it has been absolutely wonderful! We have been friends since high school - over 30 years! (That means we're getting old.) I would love to make it a yearly trip.  (Hopefully she wouldn't mind if that happened.  I know I'm somewhat of a distraction to the life here.)  We are able to connect a few hours each day at different times, but the rest of the time I am on my own.  I can hang out in my [air conditioned] room, walk around the grounds (too hot), spend time in the chapel [with the broken A/C].  So it has been a good mix of girlfriend time, God time, and me time. 

Last year I spent a lot of my time here getting acquainted with the finer points of Facebook, but I have tried to guard against letting the computer suck up large blocks of time this year.  I can tag pictures when I get home.  I can't just walk out my door into a chapel and stay for 30 minutes or an hour when I get home.

But this is where I spent a nice chunk of yesterday afternoon. I was "resting in the Lord".  It was quite relaxing.  Very comfortable.  (Yeah, I know the interior decorating didn't just hop off of a page of  [insert name of interior decorating magazine here], but you have to consider the source.

Today I spent some time in the chapel, too.  It is beautiful.  It is quiet.


See my buddy, St. Tony, here?  Aren't the flowers at his feet beautiful?  See that fan?  That could be my next new best friend.  I had the perfect spot in the second row where I could get a bit of a breeze now and then.  But when I dropped by this afternoon, the carpet square on which it sits had been slightly moved [gasp] and there was no more breeze.  I didn't feel like it was proper to go messing with someone else's fan.  But wait until I'm by myself in there tomorrow...  There was a lot of penance done in that chapel today, if the people were so inclined.  It really was cooler outside.

It's Sunday (in case you missed it), so there was Sunday Mass with a few more people than what shows up for weekday Mass.  The chaplain here is a gem.  He kind of shuffles in (my friend says he's about 80) and you think, "Hmmm... wonder what this is going to be like..."  But his homilies are relevant, memorable, engaging, thoughtful.  The first reading today was from Genesis where Abraham welcomed some visitors and was very hospitable to them.  He says that prayer is like that.  We are present to God (as was Abraham) and God is present to us.  It isn't about us doing all of the talking.  Sometimes it's just about being present.  

Martha and Mary were the gospel characters.  I really enjoy hearing Bible stories with women as the central characters.  Easier to relate to, maybe.  It made me think that we really play both roles.  My family is fine with me playing the Martha role - making sure there are clean clothes and dishes, and something to eat (I won't claim to do most of the cooking), just being there if they need something.  But more and more, I would like to be Mary - sitting at the feet of Jesus, learning, listening, being.  But that makes them uneasy for some reason.  But both my friend and my confessor have told me that it is OK to spend time as "Mary".  No need to feel guilty for not helping or being Martha.  And today's Gospel tells us that Mary has chosen the better part. 

When I genuflected to leave the chapel, this was my view.  

Last year, I sat on the aisle, so I had a better view from the pew.  But this year the fan is my friend.  (although if I stretched out on that tile floor, it might be cool...)  Here's a close-up.  It really is a beautiful little garden behind the altar.  Last year my prayer time was shared by a cardinal who would repeatedly fly into the glass.  Looking for weakest link, I think.  The sisters named him Butch.  I'm sure he's gone on to his final reward.  Or found another glass to hurl himself into.

I don't think I've had any startling spiritual revelations today, and that is just fine, really.  It was about being present and enjoying the better part. 

1 comment:

  1. That sounds just about perfect! St. Anthony has helped me many, many times!