August 8, 2009 – St. Benedict’s Monastery
I’m here, and it is absolutely wonderful. I feel a bit like a sophomore coming back to campus after being away for the summer, not nearly as green as the year before, feeling much more assured and excited about what’s to come.
It was a busy, busy day back in Fargo as I zoomed from one appointment to the next, finishing final packing, then zipping out the door with the kids in the afternoon. They slept most of the 120-mile trip to their grandparents’ home, and seemed excited to be there upon our arrival. After a short visit and snack, I was off, riding into the lush Minnesota countryside. It’s been raining a lot here and it is beautiful country anyway, but even more so with the tickle of fresh rain. The first part of the trip was rainless, but then, just as a few sprinkles started coming onto the windshield, the song, Healing Rain, came on the radio. So perfectly timed it was that I could not count it as insignificant or coincidence.
An hour after I left the in-laws’ lake town, I was pulling up to the hall where I will make my home for the next week. And indeed, it feels very much like home. I was greeted by the current heads of Studium, Sisters A and T, along with fellow scholar and friend, C, who has been coming here annually for quite a few years now from her home in Hawai’i (I learned last summer the correct pronunciation). All three had been working hard the previous hours to prepare my apartment — washing clothes, replenishing the fridge, and putting together a welcome table:
You’ll note the Macadamia nut treats from C. I received them last year as well, and how fortunate I am to be the recipient of such a fine snack once again. Sister T brought in some fresh flowers and dill from her garden (did she know how much I love flowers?). A fruit basket with coffee (also from C) and a book written by Sister Thomas Cary, OSB, The Light Within, a book on sacred art, and postcards provided the finishing touches.
Is it any wonder I feel absolutely elated? It’s enough to have been welcomed back, but to receive this kind of greeting seems as close to heaven as I can imagine. I brought along my photo calendar from home, which sports a photo of my family, lest I forget my other vocation (not that I would), and I’ve now set up shop at the same writing desk as last year. My computer connected to the Internet instantly, as if I’d never even left. I am ready to roll and look forward to sharing more in the coming days.
Oh, I do need to fess up and admit I brought some snacks of my own:
Keep in mind this is to last a week, and the M&Ms will be shared with guests. (Sounds like some kind of guilty justification, doesn’t it?) To offset this late-night snacking, I do plan to join C in doing a little exercising. But the real reason I wanted to share this, thereby risking judgment from the calorie-counting corner, is that my 9-year-old was with me at the grocery store last night, and while I hemmed and hawed over Twix versus 100 Grand bars, she said, “Wow, Mom, St. Ben’s really sounds fun. Can I come too?”
I can’t end without mentioning that today is the birthday of my father, my very first writing coach. I know that without his influence, I would not be sitting here today, feeling giddy and eager to begin what I’ve set out to accomplish. So, dear Dad, thank you for what you gave to me all those years ago through writing stories and poems to Camille and me and helping us appreciate the power and beauty of the written word. I love you!