Monday, March 15, 2010

Waiting in Repose . . .

. . . for Spring's Awakening Kiss.

That's the best way I can think of to describe, at this time of year, the look and feel of the land surrounding the Holy Wisdom Center, located just outside of Madison, Wisconsin.

Established and operated by the Benedictine Women of Madison, this center, which includes a monastery and retreat/guest house, is an ecumenical, inclusive Christian community worshiping in the Benedictine tradition.

This past weekend my friends Paula, Bernie, & Eileen and I stayed at the Holy Wisdom Center where we attended a presentation by Jesuit priest and scholar Roger Haight. This presentation addressed the question: If God is found in everyday life, why do we need the church? It was a very interesting and insightful presentation, and one that I intend writing about in the near future.

Today, however, I simply wish to share some images of the beautiful natural surrounds of Holy Wisdom Monastery.

The Benedictine Women of Madison are going to great lengths to restore acres of prairie and tree-covered land. For the community members of Holy Wisdom, such efforts to preserve, maintain and restore the land go beyond 'green' trends. For them, it is a way of life. They strive to use only what they need so that natural resources can be preserved for others.
They note that:

Care for the earth comes out of our spirituality. . . . The plants, the water, the birds and the wildlife are God’s gifts to us. People are inspired by their experiences here. They discover a spiritual connection with the land. Whether caring for it as an environmental volunteer, walking the trails, or spending time on a bench reflecting on the mysteries around them, there is something wonderful and amazing about having a place preserved as nature intended.

I must say that as I prayerfully walked the grounds of Holy Wisdom Monastery, I couldn't help but think of the current state of the Roman Catholic Church. It seems to me that like this particular part of the earth at this time of year, the Church too is waiting and longing for renewal. Spring will come and renew the earth regardless of human actions. But for the Spirit to renew the Church it seems to me that it requires our active participation. Sadly, the clerical leadership of the Church is resisting such renewal. Such resistance reminds me of the lifeless fish I observed in the iced-over waters of the little lake I came across on my walk - a lake which, ironically enough, is called Lost Lake!

I think the clerical leadership is lost - especially when it comes to issues relating to gender and sexuality, and to dealing with realities such as pluralism, diversity, and hearing and responding with genuine openness and respect to loyal dissent. Of course, it's not the first time in church history that our office holders have behaved in this way. And now, once again, I feel that the laity is being called and empowered by the Spirit to guide the Church to a greater awareness and appreciation of God's presence throughout the entire Church, and, accordingly, to a time of reform and renewal. I feel greatly honored to be part of efforts in St. Paul-Minneapolis to at least get the conversation started about a range of issues and areas of Church life that many Catholics see as requiring reform and renewal.

Above: Farmland bordering Holy Wisdom Monastery.

Above: The view of Madison, WI, from Holy Wisdom Monastery.

Then shall your light break forth
as doth the morning;
your health shall spring,
the friends you make
shall bring God's glory bright,
your way through life adorning;
and love shall be the prize.
Arise, arise, arise!
And make a paradise!

- Percy Dearmer (1867-1936)
Quittez, Pasteurs, a French hymn
Harmony: Martin Fallas Shaw (1875-1958)

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Day at the Abbey
The Sunnataram Forest Monastery
Trading with Frozen Truths
A Time to Re-Think the Basis and Repair the Damage
Clearing Away the Debris
The Call to Be Dialogical Catholics
A Declaration for Reform and Renewal
Spring Garden

Images: Michael Bayly.

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