I just attended a retreat with my Ecumenical Benedictine Oblate community. About 60 or 70 Oblates met from Friday Evening Prayer through Sunday lunch. This varied group of women and men range in age from 30 to 80. They came from homes in cities and farms, and all kinds of towns in-between… spanning the United States, and overseas.
Our personal faith traditions extend across numerous denominations of Christianity, and 12 Step Spirituality. Yet we find common ground in this community, where the Rule of Benedict pre-dates all these historical divisions. We came to this place where we are each welcome at the table. We are each greeted as Christ, and we endeavor to greet others as Christ.
We are each drawn here for the Rule of Benedict, the community, the prayers, the Psalms, the need for justice. We desire to leave some part of this earth better than we found it. We crave solitude and contemplation. We long for a greater awareness of God in our lives and our world.
We each have a unique story. As we admit the truth about our own journey of faith and the rule, we know that we will be heard, accepted, and encouraged to find our next best step in faith. As we listen to each other’s stories, we are encouraged to think in new ways about old issues. We are encouraged to admit where we need to step-up and grow… in wisdom, commitment, spiritual practice, ordinary service, and forgiveness of both ourselves and others.
In this place I asked deep theological questions, while I was knitting my socks, and washing dishes. My Catholic friend clarified her understanding of Old Testament Theology and how it relates to Christology. We discussed a ‘Communion Paradigm.’ Meanwhile a musician spontaneously took a scrap of newsprint and a magic marker, jotting down a new chant for a fellow oblate. (It was complete with tune, words and chord progressions in moments.) We prayed for each other, for our families and for our world.
There are so few places where it is safe to speak openly about these spiritual realities. There are so few places where our hearts are heard, without comparison or competition.
In this place I saw community organically drawing out the gifts of each person.
In this place I was in awe of God, in ordinary lives.