Thursday, September 29, 2011

a cloistered welcome

"I am a laywoman, married...yet I have a vocation to the cloister.  Obviously I am not called to the physical enclosure; I am called, rather, to cloister my heart.  The word 'cloister' speaks of total consecration.  It seems that compromise would not fit well in a cloister, nor would lukewarmness, nor would complacency.  The cloistered life is absolute."

I look at the above words and am amazed that I wrote them twenty years ago.  Twenty years!  Today these sentences provide me with a ... well, a kind of challenge.  Have compromise, lukewarmness, complacency found spaces in my cloister in which to hide?  O yes.  O yes, indeed.  Looking at these words now, I wonder if I'm "cloistered" at all.

And the instant I start to wonder, I'm positive that I am.  By the amazing grace of God, I am as "cloistered" as I was then; probably more so.  My prayer has gone through droughts and seasons of change, my life has had challenges and triumphs and surprises.  But in the 'cloister,' I remain.

One thing I've discovered is that "the cloistered heart" has many facets.  Like a precious jewel whose gleam is spotted by a treasure hunter, "the cloistered heart" is still being dug out and examined, turned about and exclaimed over, loved and cherished and LIVED.  If you happen to be one of those who has explored along with us in the past, I welcome you to this new kind of "newsletter."  We will continue through the rooms of the cloister as we did in "Cloistered Gatherings," and I expect we'll wander about in them more freely.  There is an informality and a "randomness" about blogging that I think I'll find appealing and easy to deal with (although I warn you that I'm totally new at it!).

If you are someone who is joining this exploration for the first time, we welcome you to our "dig!"

As we continue, we will keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.  "If Christ is not the alpha and omega of the life," wrote Dom Hubert Van Zeller, "there is no particular point to monasticism."  Jesus is the reason for our cloisters, and with Him as our focus - we begin.

(public domain photo)